Although the visitors won the toss on a dusty pitch and elected to bat first, they put up a shambolic batting display. Zak Crawley was the only batsman to offer any resistance as England collapsed from 74/2 to 112 all out well before the end of the second session.
India’s spinners wreaked havoc, while warhorse Ishant Sharma provided the initial breakthrough in his 100th Test. Rohit Sharma then notched up a fifty in India’s first innings, and Virat Kohli’s side are comfortably placed at 99/3.
Here are 3 things India did right on Day 1 of the 3rd Test against England.
Team selection technically isn’t something that happens on Day 1, but we include it on this list nonetheless. The pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium was in the spotlight coming into its first international game, and the Day-Night nature of the Test match only added to the intrigue.
India made a brave decision to go in with three spinners, sacrificing Kuldeep Yadav to bolster their batting with Washington Sundar. Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma are the only two pacers in the side, while England went with a completely different approach.
At the end of Day 1, India will feel vindicated. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel scalped 9 wickets between them on a pitch that assisted spin, and Sundar wasn’t even required with the ball.
In the 2nd Test, Indian captain Virat Kohli introduced Axar Patel into the attack before Ravichandran Ashwin, even though the off-spinner is in stellar bowling form.
The same pattern persisted in this game as well. On his home ground, the Motera Stadium, the left-arm spinner made an immediate impact. Axar trapped Jonny Bairstow in front with his first delivery in the match, and went on to take 5 more England wickets to finish with figures of 6/38 in only his second Test.
The thinking behind the decision was solid. Axar gets the new ball to skid on, while the odd one grips and turns to put doubt in the minds of the batsmen. The pace at which he bowls, coupled with the fact that England’s top order contains a lot of right-handers, would have also been contributing factors.
A standout feature of India’s superb bowling display was their consistency. All four bowlers, even the pacers, constantly attacked the stumps, allowing the pitch to play its tricks.
Axar was relentless with his lines and lengths, and always kept his line just on or around off-stump. Ashwin, who was more than happy to float it wide in the 2nd Test at Chennai where there was a lot of turn of offer, adjusted brilliantly as well.
Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma were also accurate with the new ball, although they had only one wicket to show for. Both bowlers got some movement off the surface, and the LBW always seemed to be around the corner. 7 of the 10 English wickets to fall were either bowled or LBW, vindicating India’s plans.
Speaking about the same after the day’s play, Axar said:
“The ball was skidding off the surface here. When the ball skids, you try to bowl wicket to wicket because it increases the chances of getting the batsman out LBW or bowled. I was discussing the same thing with Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin). The ball was not turning much here. Most deliveries skid off the wicket. So, our plan was to bowl wicket to wicket only.”