Wasteful England hand India early advantage

Lunch England 92 for 4 (Bairstow 20*, Stokes 5*) v India
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Compton: Moeen needed to see himself batting all day

England were in danger of throwing away the advantage of winning the toss in Mohali as they slipped to 92 for 4 on the opening day. Their two lynchpins, Alastair Cook and Joe Root, were among the batsmen to fall, and it was only Haseeb Hameed, who received a brute of a delivery, who will be able to reflect that he did not have a hand in his dismissal.

India were also able to breathe a sigh of relief – at least for the time being – having dropped two catches in the opening session, both off Cook, as each of the four bowlers used made a breakthrough. R Ashwin, who dropped one of the catches, struck with his first delivery to claim Cook. Another bowling change paid dividends shortly before lunch when Mohammed Shami lured Moeen Ali into a top-edged hook with the fourth delivery of his second spell.

On a dry, cracked surface, which was already showing signs of spin and uneven bounce, England could soon come to rue their wastefulness. Some of their shot selection suggested a side too eager to make the running, perhaps fearful of how quickly the pitch would start to break up. At lunch, Jonny Bairstow, who has been promoted to No. 5 amid the batting reshuffle based around Jos Buttler’s recall, was solid on 20 alongside Ben Stokes with England needing another significant partnership from the most prolific pairing of the year.

England were 32 for no loss in the ninth over when the first sign of the tricks that the surface could play brought Hameed’s wicket. A delivery from Umesh Yadav spat off a length and smashed into Hameed’s top glove forcing him to drop the bat as the ball looped to gully. As with the grubber he received in the second innings of the previous Test there was little Hameed could do except curse his bad luck.

Cook’s was an incident-filled stay as he was twice offered lives. His first came in the third over of the day when he had 3 and was squared up by Shami. The leading edge flew quickly towards third slip where Ravindra Jadeja did not even get a hand on the chance. Then, when Cook had 23, Ashwin spilled a simple chance at midwicket as Cook flicked at Shami’s first ball from round the wicket.

It was shaping up as a morning to forget for Ashwin who also made a mess of trying to intercept a leg-slide flick from Root – with Virat Kohli’s expression growing more angered by the minute – but he quickly made amends when tossed the ball, striking first delivery as Cook thin-edged a cut off a wide delivery.

Cook’s dismissal meant England had lost their two key batsmen in the space of seven deliveries after Root had absent-mindedly swiped across the line at Jayant Yadav having skipped his way to 15 at better than a run-a-ball. After his first-innings dismissal in Vizag, it was another poor moment that England could ill-afford from their best player.

Moeen, one of the England batsmen most comfortable using his feet against the spin, attempted a counter-attack when he came down the pitch to Jayant, who had started with four consecutive maidens, sending back-to-back deliveries straight for four and six. But a return to pace ended his stay when Shami produced a well-directed bouncer over Moeen’s head which meant he could not control his hook and picked out fine leg.

England had confirmed three changes to their side with Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Gareth Batty coming into the side. India had been forced into a significant batting reshuffle after an injury to KL Rahul which meant that Parthiv Patel, playing his first Test for eight years, was slated to open the batting and Karun Nair was handed a debut at No. 6.

India 1 M Vijay, 2 Parthiv Patel (wk), 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Karun Nair, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Jayant Yadav, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammed Shami

England 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Haseeb Hameed, 3 Joe Root, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jos Buttler, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Gareth Batty, 11 James Anderson

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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