It was finally time for some Test Cricket action, as the 4th Specsavers Test between England and India got underway at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
Joe Root won the toss again and had first choice of what to do. On a sunny morning, he chose to bat first, on what looked like a lovely day for batting. England had recalled Sam Curran and Moeen Ali to their squad, in place of Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes. India on the other hand, for the first time in Virat Kohli’s captaincy, had gone into the next Test with an unchanged team.
All the pressure was on England’s opening pair or Alistair Cook and Keaton Jennings, could they put on a decent opening stand? The simple answer to that was a big fat no. Jennings looks completely at sea at this level. He has no idea on how to bat against a swinging ball. We found that out last summer when Philander had his number, so how Jennings gets another opportunity is baffling. His dismissal for a duck surely has to be the last straw. Is has to.
Joe Root’s struggles continued as he was out to a beauty of a ball to Ishant Sharma for 4, it was full delivery, Root missed it and he was out, having wasted a review. Jonny Bairstow came in at 4 and didn’t last long, he got an absolute jaffa of a delivery from Jasprit Bumrah, no choice but to play at it, and he was gone for 6, and England were 28-3.
Alistair Cook, the experienced Cook, the man that can bat for hours on end, played at a wide delivery from Hardik Panya. He just flashed his bat out, with no conviction to Virat Kohli at 3rd slip, who took another brilliant low catch. England were 4-36 and in all sorts of trouble.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler got England to lunch on 57-4, but it took only 15 balls after lunch for Mohammed Shami to get Buttler out for 21, who also just threw his wicket away playing this most ridiculous shot ever with his team in trouble. A wide ball, no footwork, just flashed his bat out there and got a fat edge to Kohli at 3rd slip again. England were now 69-4.
Stokes then got out for another patiently made 23 before he got out LBW to Shami. England had wasted both reviews, if you’ve been given out LBW and you know you haven’t hit it, the chances to the decision getting overturned is extremely slim. So it was not very smart on both Root & Stokes’ part to review their LBW decisions.
Enter Moeen Ali and Sam Curran. These two batsmen put on a wonderful 81 run stand and got England past the 100 and 150 run mark, something which didn’t look possible when they were 57-4. It was a brilliant effort from them both. Ali was eventually dismissed for 40 as Ravi Ashwin broke the partnership, but another 63 run partnership between Curran and Stuart Broad, who made 17, took England to 240. Curran got to his second Test fifty in fine fashion, hitting Ashwin for a six.
Sam Curran has been a phenomenal player, he is going to go very far in this game. He was the last man out for a well-played 78, as England had reached 246 all out. They are still in this Test because of Curran, he has saved them yet again.
India reached 19-0 by close of play and they will have to bat the whole day to stay in command of this Test.
England, having won the toss and choosing to bat first, were bowled out on day 1. They have some explaining to do and some decisions to make.