A tough opening day to the first Test in Chennai saw India concede 263 runs to England for only three wickets on a slow and sluggish pitch that barely provided any help to the bowlers. Winning the toss and deciding to bat first, England rode on Joe Root’s century to end the first day’s proceedings on a high.
Root was expected to be a thorn in the flesh and he indeed turned out to be one such thorn that India couldn’t extract till the end of the day, as he remained not out on 128 runs. This was his third consecutive hundred on Asian soil and even though a 100 on his 100th Test doesn’t sound bad at all, his knock will surely keep the Indian management a tad worried.
Three hundreds in three consecutive Tests for Joe Root, in 2021:— ICC (@ICC) February 5, 2021
💥 228 v Sri Lanka
💥 186 v Sri Lanka
💥 100* v India (today) pic.twitter.com/pVEy0s8qSD
Opener Dom Sibley, who was the last wicket to fall, almost scored his third Test hundred before Jasprit Bumrah trapped him leg before with a straighter and quicker one on the full. Even though Sibley went for the review, India got their man on 87, bringing down the curtains on Day 1.
India decided to play three spinners, which doesn’t seem to be working much at this moment. The team management chose two young guns – Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar – to assist Ravichandran Ashwin. However, the English players played them with absolute dominance, happily sweeping their way to glory. Ashwin is the only spinner to taste some success as he picked up opener Rory Burns (33) when he tried to play one of those reverse sweeps.
Ishant Sharma, even though went wicketless on Friday, kept it tight and what one may wonder is why he wasn’t used more often! He bowled all of 15 overs despite showing signs of troubling Root. Bumrah, from the other end too, was varying his length and pace time-to-time to sneak one in. He grabbed his first Test wicket on home soil when he sent Dan Lawrence (0) back with one that tailed in sharply.
After Lawrence’s departure, which was the second wicket of the innings, there was an absolute lull for close to two full sessions from India’s end as Root and Sibley took complete control of the proceedings. The spinners posed no great threat and we were left to wonder why Virat Kohli wasn’t using the pacers more often as in the past Root has shown his discomfort against pace more than spin.
Root and Sibley stitched a 200-run partnership for the third wicket, taking the first day’s proceedings away from India’s grip. If the hosts are to make a comeback on the second day, Root will need be uprooted first. His recent form has shown his knack of playing big knocks and if he stays in the middle for even half a day tomorrow, it will hurt India’s winning chances drastically.
Meanwhile, before we leave, we would like you to experience the spirit of cricket once more in the video below. Fierce contests often give rise to men of values. Kohli is certainly one of them.