India’s pace bowlers have extended England’s batting crisis in this Test series, and another sensational start provided by them in the fourth Test at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday could propel the visitors to an improbable series win from 0-2 down.
The stadium is well outside Southampton town, ringed by trees and open like most England venues where there are no concrete structures. The conditions thus provide plenty for the seamers.
The pitch played beautifully in the last three hours, as the ball got older. But India’s pace pack, led by Jasprit Bumrah, had by then done the damage to leave England feeling grateful that young all-rounder Sam Curran (78), recalled into the side, played positively to take the hosts to 246 all out.
India were 19 for no loss at stumps with Shikhar Dhawan (3) and KL Rahul (11) seeing off four overs before play was called off with seven more overs to bowl. It gives India a golden chance to bat England out of the Test to square the series, which England lead 2-1.
READ: India vs England, 4th Test Day 1 at Southampton: As it happened
India skipper Virat Kohli for the first time as captain retained the same eleven. He lost the toss for the fourth time in the series, and when Joe Root elected to bat, it looked like advantage England. But the visitors drove home the momentum they had gained with the big win at Trent Bridge.
India’s pacers had reduced England to 86/6 in less than 35 overs, exploiting swing and seam movement, although it was sometimes far too much for young keeper Rishabh Pant, who agonised over the 23 byes he conceded.
Bumrah perhaps delivered the ball of the series, one that nipped back into Keaton Jennings to trap him in front for nought in the first ball of the third over. Fellow opener Alastair Cook battled to 17 (55 balls) but Kohli shut the scoring routes on the off-side, forced him into a half-hearted cut off Hardik Pandya and caught brilliantly at third slip. England were 36/4 in the 18th over.
Root, forced to face the new ball, escaped after India’s review for leg before showed Bumrah had overstepped. But Ishant Sharma, trapped him with a full delivery that nipped back, giving him his 250th wicket in his 86th Test.
It extend the England skipper’s poor run since his run out for 80 in the first Test. Bumrah’s pace and control was too much for Jonny Bairstow (6), reluctantly pushed up to No 4 with the keeping gloves taken away. He was forced to nick to keeper Rishabh Pant.
READ: Ishant Sharma becomes third Indian fast bowler to complete 250 Test wickets
In their past three innings, England’s shaky batting line-up had lost four wickets before reaching 100. On Thursday, the hosts were six down. Shami trapped Ben Stokes (23) leg before – like in the case of Root, England reviewed and lost – and then outsmarted the form batsman, Jos Buttler (21), who eagerly drove at a pitched-up delivery after scoring a boundary, only to nick to Kohli at third slip.
The recalled Moeen Ali (40) and Curran (78 – 136 b, 8×4, 1×6) – the latter dug in for more than three hours and like in the first Test helped England avert a total collapse – played their shots as the ball got old and conditions eased with the sun coming out.
Curran also raised 63 runs with No 10 Stuart Broad (17) before R Ashwin got both batsmen to set the marker on a pitch where spin could play a key role on the last two days.
First Published: Aug 30, 2018 23:17 IST
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