The fate of the World Test Championship, a stadium out of a fairy tale and the ever ensuing enigma of the pink ball were all the ingredients that were required to make Day 1 an eventful affair.
Virat Kohli’s poor record with the coin against England prolonged as Joe Root called right yet again. After electing to bat, Root announced four changes to the side that was comprehensively beaten in the second test.
The visitors welcomed back Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Jofra Archer and James Anderson into the team at the expense of Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Olly Stone and Moeen Ali.
On the other hand, India went in the opposite direction when it came to approach by playing three spinners in the side. Washington Sundar and Jasprit Bumrah returned to the team, taking the place of Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammad Siraj respectively.
Playing his 100th test, Ishant Sharma, apart from the mementoes he received from the dignitaries, had another moment for the occasion. The pacer removed Dom Sibley with a typical pacer’s dismissal with Rohit Sharma safely completing the catch at second slip.
While Crawley counter-attacked the pace unit in style, it prompted Kohli to introduce spin bowling in the seventh over itself. Despite the pink ball not naturally aiding spin, the dryness of the surface outweighed the dynamics of the ball.
Axar Patel managed to scalp the wicket of Bairstow with the very first ball of his spell. The left-arm spinner outfoxed Bairstow with an arm ball. Playing for turn, the wicket-keeper batsman was caught plumb in his stride.
Crawley’s half-century was the only bright spot in the first innings for the visitors as they slumped to 80-4 after the first session. The second session began on a wild note for India. Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes were dismissed in no time to leave the opposition reeling.
While the odd ball turned, it was the straighter deliveries that troubled the English batsman. The players failed to assess the degree of turn and also had difficulty reading the ball from the hand of the spinners. Indian spinners took advantage of that and accounted for 9 wickets with Axar Patel claiming a six-for. England were shot out for 112 in just 48 overs and India were out to face Anderson and co. under lights, a little earlier than expected.
Shubman Gill took a while to get off the mark while Rohit Sharma was in his usual smooth self. The young opener’s stint at the crease ended after a rash pull shot. Cheteshwar Pujara, on the other hand, shockingly departed for a duck at his home venue.
While India seemed to coast through the day without one more wicket, Virat Kohli chopped a straight one back onto his stumps to end the day on a slightly sour note. The team ended the day on 99-3, trailing behind 13 runs.
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