The first day of the fourth Test proved a difficult one for England’s batsmen as they were bowled out for 205, though Jimmy Anderson took an early wicket to leave India 24/1 at stumps and give us some momentum ahead of tomorrow.
Ben Stokes top-scored for the tourists with 55 and opened the bowling for the first time in his Test career, despite suffering from a sickness bug – yet another example of just what a fighter he is.
Joe Root won his third toss of the series and for a third time opted to bat first. There were changes from the day/night third Test, with England opting to bring in the batting of Dan Lawrence and the spin of Dom Bess for seamers Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad – it was later announced that the former is suffering once again from an elbow issue.
🏴 England win the toss & bat! 🏏
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) March 4, 2021
Axar Patel proved India’s dangerman once again as the left-arm spinner dismissed both openers to reduce England to 15/2.
Root was then trapped in front by Mohammed Siraj but Stokesy and Jonny Bairstow fought back either side of Lunch.
The duo are both naturally aggressive players and they showed a full range of shots to give England some control before Bairstow suffered the same fate as his skipper.
You would never have guessed that Stokesy was struggling with a sickness bug, as has since been reported, and he looked at his fluent best before he was pinned in front by Patel for – he even found himself involved in something of a debate with Virat Kolhi at one point.
— Cricketbolo (@cricketbolo) March 4, 2021
Lawrence, on his return to the side, showed not just his quality but how hard he’s worked on his game over the past few weeks to make a hard-fought and impressive 46, while Ollie Pope was desperately unfortunate to be caught having clipped the ball off his back leg after battling to 29.
Beyond a majestic reverse-sweep from Jimmy, the tail didn’t wag too hard and England were eventually bowled out for 205.
The bowlers needed to start well and they did, with the King of Swing removing Shubman Gill for a duck after just three balls – an LBW that was unsuccessfully reviewed.
At the other end, Stokesy opened the bowling for the first time in a Test despite suffering from a sickness bug and asked the batsmen a few questions.
As did both Bess and Jack Leach, though no more wickets fell before stumps leaving India 24/1 – 181 runs behind.
Make no mistake about it, Root’s side are still very much in this game. It’s a good pitch but England’s bowlers have proven in this series that when they’re on song they can get the better of this Indian batting line-up.
Early wickets look likely to be the key and if we can keep the hosts to a reasonable total it’s game on because they’ll have to bat last on a pitch that looks likely to deteriorate.
You feel Root and co would benefit massively from some Barmy Army chants to get them going this morning. Sadly we can’t all be there – though there were Barmy Army representatives in the ground led by our man Roger – but we’ll have to make up for it with our support from home!
See you bright and early tomorrow to do just that.