Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Exciting Day 1 Highlights of India vs England 5th Test: Rohit Sharma Hits 50, Yashasvi Jaiswal’s Impressive 57, England All Out for 218

HomeSports NewsExciting Day 1 Highlights of India vs England 5th Test: Rohit Sharma...

Dharamsala, India – The snow-capped peaks of the mighty Dhauladhar mountain range provided a picture-perfect backdrop as an enthralling opening day of Test cricket unfolded in the picturesque town of Dharamsala on Thursday. In the fifth and final match of an engrossing series, India stamped their authority through brilliant batting and disciplined bowling to leave England reeling at 218 all out before extending their dominant position to finish the day on 135/1.

The Stage is Set in the Himalayas

Cricket fans from India and England converged on the quaint Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, which was hosting its first Test match since 2017. Despite the series scorelinehaving already been decided in India’s favor at 3-1, there was no shortage of narrative intrigue heading into the contest.

For the home side, the day marked the 100th Test appearance for senior pro Ravichandran Ashwin, while England wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow also reached the illustrious milestone reserved for the sport’s elite performers. As the iconic Dhauladhar peaks looked on impassively, the two centurions strode onto the field, joining an exclusive group of just 81 other players across cricket’s lengthy history.

England Bat After Winning the Toss

After England captain Ben Stokes called correctly at the toss, he opted to bat first on a surface expected to offer early assistance to the seamers. His decision initially paid dividends as openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett negated the new-ball threats of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

However, it wasn’t long before Bumrah found his rhythm, tormenting the English batters with a relentlessly challenging line and trajectory. Beat after beat, the Indian spearhead found the outside edge without good fortune, providing an early reminder of his world-class pedigree.

At the other end, Siraj’s consistency complemented Bumrah’s mastery as the England openers were forced onto the backfoot. Circumspect defence was very much the order of the day against the two high-quality operators.

Jaiswal Etches Name into Record Books

While the English top order battled in the face of the new ball examination, events away from the middle held equal significance. In becoming the 314th player to represent India in Test cricket, debutant opener Devdutt Padikkal achieved a lifelong dream.

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But it was his batting partner at the other end, the 21-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal, who truly etched his name into the record books before a ball had even been bowled in India’s first innings. By working a single off the opening delivery from the venerable James Anderson, Jaiswal surpassed Virat Kohli’s long-standing record for most runs scored by an Indian in a Test series against England.

Having already amassed an astonishing 655 runs in the four previous Tests, the talented left-hander entered rarified air on just the first morning in Dharamsala. In doing so, he underlined his status as one of world cricket’s brightest young batting prospects.

Kuldeep Spins a Web

Back in the middle, Crawley and Duckett had played themselves in, raising a half-century stand to steady England after the early setbacks. However, their resolve was thoroughly tested upon the introduction of India’s wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

Operating with a well-disguised googly, Kuldeep immediately found prodigious turn and bounce from a surface already exhibiting subcontinent traits. It was Duckett who became his first victim, beaten in flight by a beautifully flighted delivery that spun sharply past his outside edge on its way to wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel.

The dismissal proved the opening of the floodgates as Kuldeep and his spin twin Ravichandran Ashwin combined to slice through England’s batting order with surgical precision. Despite battling knocks from the experienced duo of Joe Root (26) and Bairstow (29), the visitors struggled to come to terms with the twin spin threat.

While Root fell lbw to the steady offspin of Ravindra Jadeja, Bairstow’s form slump continued as he was brilliantly foxed in the flight by Kuldeep to edge behind. The left-armer’s maiden five-wicket haul on home soil was complemented by three key wickets for the ever-reliable Ashwin as England’s resistance faded.

The hosts did face a potentially pivotal moment when Kuldeep put down a sharp return chance offered by Bairstow on 20. But it merely provided a brief hiccup in an otherwise dominant performance in the field by the rampant Indians.

Rohit, Jaiswal Tighten the Screws

If England harbored any hopes of clawing back into the contest, those aspirations were swiftly extinguished in the final session by an exhibition of assured batting from India’s top order.

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Leading the way was the exceptional Jaiswal, showcasing a maturity far beyond his 21 years to masterfully compile an attacking half-century studded with fluent drives and muscular pulls. His innings was finally ended on 57, stumped by Jurel off the bowling of Kuldeep.

But not before the gifted left-hander had yet again demonstrated his rich potential and insatiable appetite for major run-scoring. Throughout the series, Jaiswal has exhibited phenomenal composure and concentration for a batsman barely in his third year of international cricket.

Joining the youngster in dashing England’s spirits was the free-flowing class of India captain Rohit Sharma. Reaching the close unbeaten on 57, Rohit oozed authority and experience at the crease, while Shubman Gill (32*) provided excellent support at the other end.

When stumps were finally drawn, India’s dominance was underlined by their total of 135/1, trailing England’s first innings effort by just 83 runs. With a deteriorating pitch expected to offer increasing assistance to the spinners, the hosts will be overwhelming favorites to take a 1-0 lead into the final innings.

Milestones for Twin Centurions

While the on-field narrative captivated, the day also held immense personal significance for two of the game’s most celebrated protagonists. As Ashwin and Bairstow strode onto the field together for the final toss of the series, they did so as part of an exclusive group.

With their respective appearances, the Indian offspinner and English wicketkeeper-batter became just the 14th and 17th players from their countries to reach the rarified milestone of 100 Test caps.

For Ashwin, it marked the culmination of over a decade of sustained excellence and achievement at the highest level. Now with 472 Test wickets and over 3,000 runs to his name, the 36-year-old has cemented his status as a modern legend of the game’s most venerated format.

Fittingly, he was able to celebrate his personal achievement with three key strikes on the opening day – the wickets of Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Mark Wood all falling into his bag of spoils. Few could argue he didn’t deserve to etch his name alongside India’s immortal spin quartet of Kumble, Harbhajan, Bedi and Prasanna.

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For Bairstow, the milestone carried extra significance given the many ups and downs his international career has traversed over the past decade. At times shunned from the Test squad, the plucky wicketkeeper-batter has defied the odds time and again to fight his way back into England’s plans.

On a personal level, reaching 100 Test appearances acts as the ultimate validation of Bairstow’s skill, determination and longevity with the willow. While he may have been hoping for more than his innings of 29 on the occasion, there is no doubting the pride the 33-year-old would have felt walking out onto the lush Dharamsala turf.

Day 2 Promises More Twists

As dusk fell over the towering Himalayan peaks surrounding the intimate Dharamsala venue, it was India who held the whip hand after a gripping opening salvo. With the surface expected to deteriorate significantly over the coming days, the home side’s trio of spin aces – Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep – will be licking their lips at the mouth-watering prospect that awaits.

For England’s batters, the path to saving the Test could scarcely look more arduous. While Joe Root’s class and experience makes him a formidable obstacle to overcome, the tourists will likely need major contributions from their other seasoned campaigners like Stokes and Bairstow to keep their faint hopes alive.

However, runs could well prove decidedly tougher to come by on a wearing fourth innings surface. If India’s bowlers continue to maintain a stranglehold, the touring Englishmen may find themselves battling simply to take the match into a fifth day.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, the opening act in Dharamsala provided a gripping and eventful curtain-raiser befitting of the occasion and stunning natural surrounds. From Jaiswal’s record-breaking exploits to the twin milestones of Ashwin and Bairstow to Kuldeep’s mesmerizing display of wrist spin, it was a day that encapsulated all the unique quirks and charms that make Test cricket such an enthralling spectacle.

And with the towering, snow-capped sentinels of the Dhauladhar range keeping a watchful eye, it promises to be the first installment of an enthralling climax to a series that has already woven itself into the rich tapestry of the centuries-old rivalry between these two cricketing nations.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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