A team that loses two consecutive sessions in a Test match usually finds itself in a spot of bother and India's case on Day 1 of the 4th Test against England at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was no different. The privilege of batting first in a Test match in India is huge, and England had that after Alastair Cook won the toss. The Wankhede wicket is known for its bounce and provides assistance for the pace bowlers in the first hour of play. The English openers did well to get through that period without losing a wicket and automatically put India on the back foot.
However, one must say that the Indian pacers - Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar - didn't help their case by bowling short when they could have obtained some swing early on, had they pitched the ball up. After the first twenty overs, the English duo shifted gears and put the hosts bowling attack under pressure. Even though, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin managed to send Cook and Joe Root back to the hut respectively, debutante Keaton Jennings led the visitors' charge with a fine hundred on debut. The youngster was well supported by Moeen Ali who helped himself to a 104-ball fifty.
Ashwin, who was getting plenty of turn from the wicket, tested the English batsmen throughout but it was only after tea that he got his due rewards. The all-rounder was almost unplayable in the final session of the day and took three quick wickets before stumps to get India back in the mix. With the score reading 288/5 at stumps, the day belonged to England, but Ashwin's post-tea spell has kept India in striking distance of their opponents.
However, for India to truly comeback in this Test match, a good first session on Day 2 is a must. Ashwin gave Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes plenty of problems at the fag end of Day 1 and it remains to be seen how long they take to crumble under pressure from the off-spinner. But it will be important to provide Ashwin good support from the other end, not just from Jadeja and Jayant Yadav, but also from the fast bowlers who could get some purchase from the wicket early on.
The new ball is already due and Virat Kohli may be tempted to take it in the morning. With the wicket offering good bounce, Ashwin will come in more than handy and his carom ball could come into play. But for the off-spinner to succeed, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar will have to bowl a lot better than they did on Day 1. It will be crucial that they pitch the ball up and draw the English batsmen into looking for the shot and hope a bit of juice in the wicket does the rest for them.
The hosts might find it hard to comeback into the match if England get more than 400 runs on this wicket. So it will be extremely vital for India's to dismiss England under 400, preferable under 350, to have a chance of taking a first innings lead.
English batsmen will find it hard to negotiate Ravichandran Ashwin for too long on this wicket and if the other Indian bowlers, especially the pacers build pressure from the other end, India could be right back in this Test match by lunch.
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Updated Date: Dec 08, 2016 23:06:50 IST