INDIA VS ENGLAND | The Wrap Up - 1st Test, Day 1
India vs England - a mouthwatering and eye blurring prospect given the form of both sides and the time difference for those on English shores. Here's The Wrap Up of day 1 in Chennai:
An important toss
In 2018, Joe Root became the first England captain to win every toss in a five-Test series since Colin Cowdrey at home to South Africa in 1960. He followed that up with three wins out of three in Sri Lanka in 2018/19, stamping his authority as one of the best tossers in the game. Class is, as we know, permanent, and despite a blip against Sri Lanka last month, he has made a timely return to winning tosses this series.
The decision to bat first in Chennai was a no-brainer, it has allowed England to lay a fantastic foundation on a pitch which looked turgid on day 1, but will no doubt offer something to the spinners over the next few days. England will need a few slices of fortune to win this series, and Root’s tossing heroics will help.
Dom Sibley looked a changed man from the one we saw in Sri Lanka. He ground out a confidence boosting 50 in the final innings of the series in Galle, but it was gritty and made to look difficult. Albeit in more batting friendly conditions, his approach to spin today was positive, using his feet well and picking up on line effectively to whip the ball through an often vacant mid wicket region. It shows his capacity for developing his game through tribulation, an important attribute for any player propelled to the Test arena.
At one point his false shot percentage stood at 7.5%, the lowest in a Test innings in which he has scored a half century, which was a marker of his concentration and shot selection. He will be rightly disappointed to have missed on a deserved ton.
India opted to include Washington Sundar and Shabaz Nadeem as the spin options alongside Ravichandran Ashwin, omitting Kuldeep Yadav in the process. Of course, with hindsight it is easy to berate selection but the decision to lengthen the batting lineup at the expense of a wrist spinner looks a mistake at this stage. Virat Kohli will be ruing the injury to Ravindra Jadeja, his precision and consistency could have at least contained England as they countered.
When you are in form, you’ve got to make it count and the captain has done just that in his 100th Test. Following on from his imperious series in Sri Lanka, Root romped his way to a marvellous 128* at the end of play, having come in with England teetering at 62-2. Unsurprisingly, the sweep proved most fruitful for Root, amassing 26 runs with the shot.
CricViz’s midweek article explained that the secret to the Yorkshireman’s success against spin is his ability to avoid playing the ball in the “danger zone”. He utilises his remarkable talent for spotting length and either smothers the turn or gets right back in his crease and reacts to the movement of the ball. Coupled with a pitch that barely turned, and offered little in the way of lateral movement for seamers, Root barely put a foot wrong as he proved his class once again.
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