IND v ENG 5th Test, Day 1 Review: Ali slams century to put England in a comfortable position

Ishant Sharma (Photo Source: BCCI)

Moeen Ali compiled his 5th Test century and the second of this tour and Joe Root played yet another spectacular knock to keep England in top at stumps on day one of the fifth and the final Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai. England did not look in any trouble batting the coal baked pitch and smoothly sailed through the day after initially suffering a couple of huge blows. Ravindra Jadeja also maintained a tight noose around them with timely strikes and regular appeals. But, Root and Ali, in particular, overhauled Indians today.

Chennai got itself prepared just in time to host the Test after facing the raging Vardah Storm and the public mourning of its Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. These two events took attention away from the game as the fate of the final test match of the series rested into the hands of nature and the people of Chennai. However, much to delight of fans, the match saw no hindrance and kicked off on schedule. Cook won his fourth consecutive toss of the series and walked away to pad up after choosing to bat first.


First Session:

Spin has come into action pretty early at the M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai while that is an exciting sign for India, England certainly haven’t been able to take advantage of winning the toss and deciding to bat first. Virat Kohli made two changes in the playing XI with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jayant Yadav making way for Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra. The visitors handed over Test cap to left-arm spinner Liam Dawson and Stuart Broad was back in the lineup.

The Indian pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Ishant started off well bowling consistent lines and with plan and strategy. Ishant set up Keaton Jennings well with the short of length stuff and then invited him to drive and found the outside edged easily pouched by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel. The senior most Indian bowler struck in the third over of his spell and certainly the bowling attack was all charged up.

Umesh notched up the pace and troubled the English batsmen. Virat who doesn’t like things to get predictable made a change and got Ravindra Jadeja in just the 9th over and there was assistance off the wicket immediately. Alastair Cook who had lost his wicket against Jadeja 4 times before this inning wasn’t comfortable facing the left armer given the history in the series.

He was inviting the batsmen forward and then surprising them with his change in pace as well; the persistence paid when Cook leapt to drive but managed just an edge to Virat Kohli at first slip who took a sharp low catch. Cook after notching up 11,000 Test runs was on his way back for just 10. Meanwhile, Joe Root also had his share of troubles and Moeen Ali who joined him was greeted by pace.

The Indian skipper got in Umesh from one end and his lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin from another; both bowled superbly well-giving nothing away and building the pressure, there were some close moments a tough chance being dropped but the hosts went into Lunch having earned credits for the session while for England’s pleasure Joe Root is still out there and has scored 44 along with Ali who is unbeaten on 7.

Second session:

England dominated the second session of the day as they added 114 runs fro the loss of only one wicket. It was all about finding the rhythm for the tourists. Root and Ali gained momentum and suppressed the Indian spinner to a large part of the play before Ravindra Jadeja got a lucky dismissal of Joe Root.

Root continued from where he dropped the anchor in the opening session, which saw both the openers return to the pavilion for cheap scores. Indian spinner was not allowed to take advantage of the situation as Root combined with Ali to add 146 runs for the 3rd wicket and put England in a comfortable position. Batting seemed easy and the pitch unhelpful for the spinner at the time both were digging it out in the middle.

While the duo looked immovable, more frustrating was the rate at which both were gathering runs. Their runs during their stay came at 3.49 per over. Root, who returned at 44, during Lunch, took no time in completing his half-century. This half century also extended his fine run against India. In the 11 Tests against India, he has got at least one 50 plus score in each Test, the most such Tests by anyone against a team.

Respite came in 42nd over, half-way into the session when Parthiv Patel managed to grab a faint under-edge off Jadeja’s bowling. It was perhaps a lucky dismissal and could have been impossible had the excited Jadeja not convinced Kohli to take the DRS as umpire initially turned down his appeal. And, much to the relief of India, the Snicko showed the edge and the decision went favour of the hosts.

Ali in the meantime reached his half century too and along with Bairstow shouldered the responsibility of piloting the innings till the break.

Third Session:

The final session was pretty similar to the previous session. England continued to add runs to its tally and India were able to get only one success. Ali stepped into Root’s shoes and carried forward the innings with elan in the middle. He reaped rewards for his sensible knock and walked back with 120* to his name, reaching the milestones just a few overs before stumps. Thanks to hi knock, England were able to accumulate 100 runs in the session and ended on a high.

Indian spinners continued to put their hard work. Apart from Jadeja, who snapped one more wicket this session of that of Jonny Bairstow, the other two spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra were largely ineffective and finished wicketless. Little assistance from the pitch could be blamed, perhaps. But, this can’t be used as an excuse to term England lucky. The batsmen were made to work hard for the runs as well.

Brief Scores:

England: 284/4 (Joe Root 120*; R Jadeja 3/73)