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By Abhijit Banare
Aug 7, 2014
India lost five wickets in a horrendous first session against England on Day One of fourth Test at Old Trafford, Manchester on Thursday. The duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad ripped through the top order leaving India at eight for four at one stage. MS Dhoni (25 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (24) led the recovery with a 54-run stand to take the team to 63 for five at lunch.
Reputations can take serious beating even due to a regular decision to bat first after winning the toss. The moment MS Dhoni won the toss, a stat did the rounds on Twitter – ‘MS Dhoni becomes the first captain of Independent India to win a toss at Old Trafford.’ But all that was laid to rest and 20 minutes in to the play, ‘India 8-4’ was trending on Twitter. Toss perhaps can’t cover up the disastrous way in which one batsman followed the other back to the pavilion. It is something you are used to watching the highlights package with batsmen edging and the slip cordon celebrating.
Having won the toss, both captains agreed that they were keen to bat first, except that Dhoni was the one who actually got to do so having won the toss. Unlike the Lord’s or say Southampton, there was hardly any threatening green cover to cause a big difference. Light drizle and overcast conditions delayed the start of proceedings. Nursing injury concerns and form of their players, India made three changes with Gautam Gambhir making a comeback along with Ravichandran Ashwin and Varun Aaron. There were high hopes from Gambhir playing for the first time since 2012 replacing an out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan. Eventually, Gambhir got out in a way Dhawan used to fiddling outside off and edging to the slips.
From thereon, in a matter of few minutes, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara kept the route to pavilion busy; all dismissed in similar fashion with two of them falling for ducks. Vijay got a brilliant one from Anderson. Two balls later, Anderson bowled a regular outswinger and Kohli — already struggling for form — poked at it to keep the slip cordon busy. To make the scoreboard more ugly for India, Broad induced an edge of Pujara and was brilliantly caught by Chris Jordan in the slips. This was Pujara’s first duck in 39 Test innings. His last duck was in a domestic game in 2008. It brought back fears of “Summer of ’42” as Anderson and Broad produced some hostile bowling and looked set to pick a few more.
The edges and misses continued as Dhoni, Rahane managed to hang on. After an intense first hour of play, it was back to Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan. But the duo failed to create the same uneasiness as Broad-Anderson. The batsmen managed to pick them easily. Baring the odd bouncers and away swingers, Dhoni and Rahane did well to carry the team ahead. The duo shared 50-run stand which in present situation looked more than a double ton partnership. Just when they seemed heading to lunch salvaging some pride, Jordan struck removing Rahane.
Most of the Indian wickets barring that of Vijay were poor shots from the batsmen. Carrying forward from Southampton, India have now lost 14 sessions in a row. And that shows how well England have tamed the visitors. With Dhoni and Jadeja, England are very much in the game to bowl them out today.
India 63 for 5 (MS Dhoni 25*, Ajinkya Rahane 24; Stuart Broad 2 for 8, James Anderson 2 for 21) vs England.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog
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