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4th Test, Day 1: Bumrah helps India fight back at The Oval, England trail by 138 runs

As the game resumes, keep an eye out for Bumrah. He is one wicket away from his 100th. He might just hold the key to this Test and the series.

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New Delhi: The Indian cricket team suffered yet another top order collapse, some tail-end heroics and then some fast bowling redemption, all in three dramatic sessions of play at The Oval. In all these ways it was a typical Day One we’ve come to expect from India during an overseas series.

The opening day of the fourth Test also reaffirmed another reality of Indian cricket, which is both frustrating and exciting at the same time. The fragility of the batting is as bewilderingly bad as the effervescence of the pace bowling is stirring.

Yet another batting debacle may have been the cause of concern as India was bowled out for 191 in its first innings Thursday, but Jasprit Bumrah, mostly bowling straight, tight and fast despatched England’s two openers — Rory Joseph and Haseeb Hameed — in his first over. And then, just minutes before stumps, Umesh Yadav had an express delivery nip back, and head for the top of the stumps through Joe Root’s bad and pad. Not something you’ve seen often lately.

Dawid Malan (26*) and night watchman Craig Overton (1*) will resume the battle today.

After England won the toss and chose to field first, India’s top five batsmen — Rohit Sharma (11), K.L. Rahul (17), Cheteshwar Pujara (4), and Ravindra Jadeja (10) — lost their wickets in the opening session. Besides captain Virat Kohli and all-rounder Shardul Thakur, the middle-order batsmen failed to build any substantial partnership or score beyond the 20-mark.

Indian batting disaster again confirmed the wisdom Anil Kumble once spoke of. When asked what gets the batsmen out — spin, swing, seam, bounce, pace, flight or pitch — he said: “None of the above. What gets the batsmen out is pressure.” It had seemed as if the minds of the Indian top order were weighed down with the embarrassment of two Leeds collapses.

Kohli scored his second consecutive fifty in the ongoing series, his 27th Test fifty. He also became the fastest player to reach 23000 international runs. But he gave away his wicket in a similar way as the last six times, nicking away the ball in the hands of the wicket-keeper.

Thakur, who along with Umesh Yadav was pulled in the place of Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma, scored his second Test fifty off just 31 balls in the 60th over. Soon after, ‘Lord Shardul’ ruled the top trends on Twitter with people reminiscing his performance at the Gabba earlier this year. He held the fort with Yadav until Chris Woakes picked his wicket, ending the 8th wicket partnership. Yadav, the last man to be out, was caught by Jonny Bairstow and bowled by Ollie Robinson.

Woakes, who came in place of Sam Curran, scalped four wickets for the hosts in 15 overs. Along with Robinson’s three wickets and James Anderson and Craig Overton’s one each, the English pace quartet restricted India a few runs short of the double ton in just 61.3 overs.

As hostilities resume later Friday afternoon (3:30pm IST), keep an eye out for Bumrah. His equanimity, no show of emotion at his two wickets, and a look of calm determination looked ominous. He is one wicket away from his 100th. But his eye seems set on a target some place higher. He might just hold the key to this Test and the series.

Brief scores: India 191 all out (Shardul Thakur 57, Virat Kohli 50, Chris Woakes 4/55) vs England 53/3 (Joe Root 21, Dawid Malan* 26, Jasprit Bumrah 2/15)

Also read: India keep Ashwin out of 4th Test too, ‘flabbergasted’ Bhogle leads backlash on social media


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