After enduring a nightmarish run at Visakhapatnam and Mohali, England appeared set in their pursuit of keeping the five-Test series against India alive by getting off to an ideal start in the fourth Test in Mumbai.
Even though a couple of setbacks — courtesy none other than Ravichandran Ashwin — pegged them back by a couple of steps, the visitors were looking at what could possibly turn out to be a solid first innings total in excess of 400 at the end of the opening day of the Wankhede Test.
While marathon Test series has already sprung up some interesting individual performances that could go on to influence the dynamics of both sides in a big way in the days to come. For the hosts, the the emergence of Adil Rashid as a key figure on these conditions, which mostly favour spin, has been one of the biggest talking points from the series so far.
As is the case of the emergence of Alastair Cook's young opening partners Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings, both of whom have put up superb displays in the chances that have come along their way so far. Jennings though, stole some of the spotlight away from Hameed at the end of Day 1 of the fourth Test with an energetic, stroke-filled century on debut that got his Test career off to a sparkling start.
With Haseeb Hameed ruled out of the series due to a finger injury, which did not deter him from producing a knock that did justice to his moniker of 'Baby Boycott' in the second essay at Mohali, a berth in the England Test team came knocking on Jennings' door after a series of trailblazing performances for Durham in the county circuit. Given that he is likely to open for another three innings at most after this innings, all Jennings needs to do is bat with the same intent in order make things a tad more interesting for the selection panel.
Given that it only was the opening day of the Test, the unbeaten middle-order duo of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler have an important task at hand on the second day if they are to build on the advantage that the top-order wrested on Thursday. Much like the first and third-wicket stands, Cook's men need a couple of solid stands at this stage if they are to build their way towards a grand total. Let's not forget the fact that this order is quite apt with the bat, especially the likes of Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes.
Given the way the pitch was starting to turn on the opening day, captain Cook would ideally give a short spell to his pacers, before eventually bringing Rashid and Moeen Ali into play on the second day, with the hope of unsettling the Indian top-order early in their innings.
India has shown the ability to upstage the proceedings with one good spell or knock, and still look likely to seal the series in their favour by eking out a draw even if they were to concede an early lead. England, on the other hand, have shown how the job should be done on Day 1, as they did at Rajkot, and will have to go about their business with the same approach in all the remaining days of the series.
Updated Date: Dec 09, 2016 00:17:03 IST