Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara showed great application as India ended the opening day of the fourth and final Test against England in the driver’s seat despite losing opener Shubman Gill at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday. 11 wickets fell on the day as England was bundled out for 205 after skipper Joe Root won the toss and decided to bat first.
At stumps, India’s score read 24/1 with Rohit (8*) and Pujara (15*) at the crease — trailing the visitors by 181 runs in the first innings. After a disappointing show with the bat, England got off to a flying start with the ball as James Anderson struck with the third ball of the innings. The pace spearhead trapped Gill (0) in front of the stumps as India lost a wicket with no run on the board.
But Rohit and Pujara ensured that was the end of the visitors’ joy on the day as they played out the remaining 11.3 overs without losing any wicket.
Earlier, Axar once again hogged the limelight with his four-wicket haul while Ravichandran Ashwin scalped three as England was bundled out for 205. While it was Mohammed Siraj who picked the all-important wicket of Root in the first session, Ashwin broke the deadlock in the third session as he dismissed Ollie Pope.
Pope’s wicket sparked a collapse from which England couldn’t really recover. The visitors went down from 166/5 to 205 all out within 14.3 overs, losing half of their side for 39 runs as Axar struck twice in one over. Ashwin dismissed Pope a few minutes into the third session. Pope got unlucky as the inside edge hit the back pad and popped to short-leg fielder Shubman Gill.
India’s senior off-spinner then dismissed Ben Foakes in the 66th over to reduce the visitors to 170/7. Minutes later Axar dismissed Daniel Lawrence and Dominic Bess to leave England reeling at 189/9. It looked as the visiting side would get bundled out soon, but Jack Leach and James Anderson took England over the 200-run mark.
Earlier, electing to bat first, England openers Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley saw off the first five overs bowled by the Indian pacers — Ishant Sharma and Siraj, who has come into the side in place of Jasprit Bumrah. However, the introduction of Axar in the sixth over brought immediate reward for the hosts as the spinner clean-bowled Sibley (2), reducing England to 10/1.
The 27-year-old struck again in his second over as he had Crawley (9) caught at mid-off. The right-handed batsman tried to go over the top to create more pressure on the bowler, but ended up mistiming the ball and handed a simple catch to Siraj. Immediately after the first drinks break, England skipper Root (5) was trapped in front by Siraj and the visitors got reduced to 30/3 in the 13th over. The visitors ended the opening session on 74/3.
Brief Scores: England 205 (Ben Stokes 55; Axar Patel 4-68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-47); India 24/1 (Cheteshwar Pujara 15*; James Anderson 1-0)