It was an eventful day 1 of the 4th Test between India and
England, with plenty of assistance for the seamers as 13 wickets fell across
both sides. After losing the toss and opting to bowl, England dismissed India
for 191 thanks to excellent contributions from Chris Woakes (4-55) and Ollie
Robinson (3-38). The Indian captain Virat Kohli was the sole contributor from
the top-order with his second consecutive half-century of the series before
some lusty blows from Shardul Thakur (57) helped India inch closer towards a
200-run total. The tourists also finished the day on a positive note with the
key wicket of Joe Root, with England ending on 53 for 3 as they trail India by
Under cloudy skies at the Oval the Indian openers – KL Rahul
and Rohit Sharma – batted cautiously to see off the opening spell from James
Anderson, but Chris Woakes’ introduction on his return to the side got the
breakthrough for the hosts. Woakes got a delivery to jump off the surface in
his very first over which surprised Rohit Sharma and took the outside edge on
its way to the keeper.
KL Rahul followed his opening partner soon after as Ollie
Robinson got one to jag back and trap him on his back leg before James Anderson
drew an edge from Pujara to leave India at 39-3. Curiously, India opted to
promote Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Ajinkya Rahane at number five – presumably to
create a left-hand right-hand combination. Unfortunately, that experiment
failed to reap the rewards, with Jadeja departing for 10 shortly after Lunch.
The Indian captain Virat Kohli played some sublime cover
drives during the afternoon to keep the scoreboard ticking but couldn’t convert
his start into a big score and was once again caught behind off Ollie Robinson
after reaching his half-century.
India’s troubles were compounded with Ajinkya Rahane and
Rishabh Pant also heading back to the pavilion on either side of Tea with only
127 runs on the board. However, Shardul Thakur launched a stunning
counter-attack to put the pressure back on the English bowlers with some
phenomenal ball-striking all across the ground. Thakur scored the fastest
half-century in the history of Test cricket in England and played a remarkable
knock off 57 from only 36 deliveries which included seven 4s and three 6s to
give India a lifeline in the game.
Thakur’s fireworks were eventually cut short by Chris
Woakes, and England wrapped up the tail three balls later, restricting India to
a below-par 191.
However, the tourists were buoyed by the late blows from
Thakur and got off to the perfect start, with Jasprit Bumrah removing both
openers in the same over. Rory Burns played one onto his stumps off a skiddy
delivery from Bumrah before Haseeb Hameed wafted at a loose short delivery
outside off-stump that flew to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps.
Joe Root and Dawid Malan steadied the innings with a brisk
partnership, but Umesh Yadav produced a jaffa late in the day that trimmed Joe
Roots’ bails for 21 to put the game in the balance with England still 138