India bowl out England for 246

India have selected KS Bharat as their wicketkeeper, and have included Axar Patel as the third spinner.
India's bowler Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of England's batter Ben Duckett during the first day of the first Test cricket match between India and England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.
India's bowler Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates the wicket of England's batter Ben Duckett during the first day of the first Test cricket match between India and England, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.Photo | PTI

HYDERABAD: India bowled out England for 246 on the opening day of the first Test here on Thursday with the home team spinners sharing eight wickets between them.

England captain Ben Stokes won the toss and opted to bat first.

The visitors were off to a decant start with openers Zak Crawley (20) and Ben Duckett (35) adding 55 runs at a fairly good pace before Ravichandran Ashwin gave India their first breakthrough by having Duckett trapped in front of the wicket.

Stokes top-scored with 70 off 88 balls and was the last English wicket to fall, bowled by Jasprit Bumrah (28).

Jonny Bairstow contributed 37 off 58 balls before he was done in by a beautiful delivery from Axar Patel (2/33).

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin bagged three wickets apiece while there were two each for Axar and Bumrah.

Umpire Chris Gaffaney did not have to think long before raising his finger, and even a review could not save Duckett as England's opening stand ended at 55.

It was also, perhaps, the most reassuring phase in England's innings as they were able to give a peek into their ‘Bazball' approach while scoring at five runs an over.

In fact, they milked 25 runs from the first four overs bowled by pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

But once that partnership was broken, England failed to press on against Indian spinners as Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow stumbled badly.

Axar castled Bairstow with a peach after the England batter failed to cover the spin and the ball crashed on to the top of off-stump.

It also signalled the end of a 61-run alliance for the fourth wicket between Bairstow and Root, as it kept England afloat for a while even though not in the most assured manner.

However, the dismissal of Root would haunt the visitors the most among all the other dismissals.

Root is one batsman in the English line-up who can counter spin well, but here his approach was too pre-meditative to be successful.

The former captain kept on sweeping the spinners and Jadeja hit a fuller length which resulted in a top-edge to short fine leg where Jasprit Bumrah did not have to strain himself much to complete the catch.

Ben Foakes has this reputation of being a fine player of spin but on this day only struggle was visible as he departed with a 24-ball four, offering a simple catch to KS Bharat behind the wickets off Axar.

It left captain Stokes, who employed conventional and non-conventional sweeps to counter spin, to wage a lonely battle in the company of tailenders and even looked solid during his stay in the middle as well.

But then on dire occasions like the one England encountered here, even a lion-hearted warrior like Stokes can only add a modicum of respectability to the total.

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