AHMEDABAD: India ended day one of the fourth Test against England pretty much on the top after being 24-1 at stumps in reply to the visitors’ 205 in the first innings in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 15 off 36 deliveries along with Rohit Sharma who made 8 in 34 balls at the end of the first day’s play. India lost Shubman Gill early in the first innings when he was trapped lbw by James Anderson in the very first over.
Earlier in the day, Indian spinners, led by Axar Patel (4-68), bowled England out for 205. Yet again he consistently troubled the visiting batsmen even as all-rounder Ben Stokes (55) resisted the attack quite well before being trapped by Washington Sundar.
Once he got his eye in, Stokes even employed the risky reverse sweep.
Dan Lawrence, coming out at number seven, also batted well, helping England get close to the 200-run mark, with his 46-run knock.
It’s only the second time in this series that England have gone beyond the 200-run mark.
Had Lawrence shown a bit more patience, it would have served England’s purpose even more.
For the hosts, spinners Axar Patel (4-68) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-47) shared seven wickets between them, while pacer Mohammed Siraj (2-45) also accounted for two batsmen.
England lost early wickets, including skipper Joe Root for five, to slump to 30-3 before Stokes put on key partnerships with Jonny Bairstow, who made 28, and Pope.
Stokes raised his 24th Test fifty and second in the series with a boundary off a reverse sweep, but the left-hander soon fell to one of Sundar’s deliveries from around the wicket.
Bairstow was trapped lbw by a rising Siraj delivery and failed in a review that showed the ball would have clipped the top of middle stump.
Earlier, spin was introduced in the sixth over and Patel struck with his second ball as Dom Sibley was bowled for two.
Patel in his next over then induced Zak Crawley, on nine, to miscue tamely into the hands of Siraj at mid-off.
Bairstow, who failed to score in either innings of the third Test, tried to steady the innings along with his captain. But Siraj broke through after the first drinks interval to trap Root on the back foot with an in-swinging delivery.
Siraj and Stokes were involved in a verbal duel, joined by India captain Virat Kohli, until the umpires intervened. Stokes then hit back with three boundaries off the quick bowler.
The match is being played at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s biggest cricket venue, where India won the spin-dominated third Test inside two days.
England left out fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad, with off-spinner Dom Bess and Lawrence back in the team. India are leading the series 2-1 and need just a draw to qualify for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand to be held in June.