NASSER HUSSAIN: Repetitive dismissals are a real concern for England after they fluffed their lines again following a crucial toss… Joe Root’s men face a long road ahead to get anything out of this series
- England were bowled out for just 205 on day one of the final Test against India
- It is the repetitive nature of dismissals that will have most concerned England
- Ben Stokes played well and got the tempo right but even he then got trapped
- Virat Kohli’s captaincy is always better when India are ahead in the game
- England will still be in this Test if they manage to bowl out India for 250 or less
England fluffed their lines again after winning a crucial toss in Ahmedabad which summed up their lack of confidence with the bat after the last two heavy defeats.
Five times they had failed to make 200 in this series and now they only just scraped past that modest total thanks to a couple of reverse sweeps from Jimmy Anderson. It just showed where they are with their batting in these conditions.
It was almost as if England had picked a side for the last Test. They left out two of their seamers because they thought the ball would spin from day one again but as it turned out it did a bit for Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma on the first morning.
Joe Root (left) won the toss in Ahmedabad but England struggled with the bat yet again
India’s Mohammed Siraj wheels away after the dismissal of England’s Jonny Bairstow (right)
Root walks off after being dismissed for just five runs on day one of the final Test against India
So England can count themselves very lucky they did win that toss because bowling would have been hard work for them with the attack they chose.
Yes, you can see the need for an extra batsman, in this case Dan Lawrence, on a poor pitch, but in this game England needed three seamers and the extra spinner. They have not read conditions well and have not played particularly well.
There was certainly nothing wrong with this pitch. It is probably the best of the series when you think how flat Chennai was for the first Test and then how much the ball turned in the second and third games. This should lead to an even contest between bat and ball and will turn more and more as the game progresses.
I said before this Test that if any England right-handers walked off having been beaten on the inside by Axar Patel they should ask serious questions of themselves but that’s exactly what Dom Sibley did when the left-armer first started bowling.
Ben Stokes managed a half-century but England were bowled out for just 205 by the hosts
It is the repetitive nature of dismissals that will most concern England. Jonny Bairstow was again done by a nip backer and Joe Root was trapped on the crease.
One of the great features about a long Test series is the way batsmen are probed for any weakness and then have to find a solution over the course of four or five matches. England are not finding the answers in this one.
Ben Stokes played well on Thursday and got the tempo right but even he then got trapped in the crease by Washington Sundar with a ball that didn’t turn. He just got undone by the bowler’s natural variation rather than any great turn or mystery.
Any good batsman will tell you the crease is not the place to be against spin – you have to be either fully forward or fully back – and England did try to use their feet.
For a while it worked for Ollie Pope and Lawrence and Pope did look better in this game. He didn’t look like a wicket waiting to happen and only got out in an unlucky way.
India’s players celebrate taking the wicket of Zak Crawley on a good day for captain Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s captaincy is always better when India are ahead in the game so yesterday suited him perfectly. When he has two spinners and things are going well he is at his best but when his side are behind he gets ruffled and starts to follow the ball with his field placings. So England haven’t really tested him since that first Test.
The India captain had a decent day but it was not wise of him to get into a verbal spat with Stokes because it only served to get him in the mood for the battle.
I thought Kohli should have turned to Ravichandran Ashwin earlier when Stokes came in because he has struggled so badly in this series against him but the Indian captain had the last word because he went to Sundar and he did the trick.
I was impressed with Siraj. He’d only played four Tests before this but he was skiddy and quick and helped to prove again that India are far from a one-dimensional side. On pitches like this they are well covered for seam even without Jasprit Bumrah.
England will still be in this Test if they can bowl out India for 250 or less on the second day. But if not they face a long road ahead to get anything out of this series.
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