What seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout this test series between India and England was prevalent yet again in today’s opening day of the fourth test in Ahmedabad.
Despite England winning the toss and deciding to bat first on a much-improved pitch in comparison to the last 2 tests, they failed to take full advantage as Joe Root’s side scored 205 all out – albeit the first time they have scored over 200 in 3 test matches.
India’s spinners caused problems for England yet again, with Axar Patel managing 4 wickets for 68 runs in addition to Ravichandran Ashwin’s 3 for 47. Pace bowler Mohammed Siraj also contributed with 2 wickets for 45 runs.
India then started their first innings in a shaky manner when Shubman Gill was dismissed for lbw by James Anderson – who delivered 5 maidens in perhaps the best part about England’s day. However, India finished the day on 24/1, with Rohit Sharma scoring 8 off 34 and Cheteshwar Pujara scoring 15 off 36.
“Most disappointing day of the winter”
England started their innings poorly, when Dom Sibley was bowled by Patel’s second ball of the day after the spinner played a straight ball that clipped the inside edge of Sibley’s bat and consequently hit leg stump. Sibley managed just 2 runs off 8 balls.
Then, adding insult to injury, Zak Crawley’s attempt to play over mid-off from Patel’s ball was easily caught by Siraj, meaning England had lost 2 wickets after just 7.5 overs, scoring just 15 in that time.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan didn’t hold back when discussing England’s batting display against India in this opening day of the fourth and final test.
Vaughan mentions how Crawley gifted Patel an early wicket, then also added “for Sibley to have such a big gap between bat and pad – if that was a tailender batting that way, you’d criticise them”.
All in all, Vaughan described the day as the “most disappointing day of the winter”. A completely agreeable statement, especially when the conditions were good enough to score a decent total, you cannot start the way England did – it’s simply not good enough.
Some of England’s batsmen did heal some of the damage, with the recalled Dan Lawrence scoring 46 off 74 as well as Ben Stokes’ 55 off 121 – the latter’s 24th test half-century.
Overall however, it was another disappointing day at the office for England’s batsmen.
India’s spinners the thorn in England’s side once again
Despite England’s poor batting display – including captain Joe Root’s 5 off 9 and Ben Foakes’ 1 off 12 – it was another fine display from India’s spinners Patel and Ashwin.
BBC’s Stephen Shemit described their bowling as “excellent” – emphasised by Patel’s dismissal of Sibley and Crawley (regardless of their batting display) in just 11 of his deliveries.
This exceptional display by both Patel and Ashwin also condemns England using the conditions of the pitch in test 2 and 3 as a scapegoat for the spinners having so much success against their batsmen.
As Shemit adds, the pitch was “blameless” – showing that it’s purely a combination of the talent of Ashwin and Patel with England’s poor batting techniques and methods – which Shemit also described as “fluctuating between repeating old mistakes and reckless over-aggression”.
India are, once again, in full control going into day 2 of a test match against England. It’s not exactly game over yet for England, but they’ll need a similar performance by their bowlers if they are to redeem the poor batting display they showcased in this first day.
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Axar Patel with the ball in Test cricket:
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 4, 2021