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India vs England 2016, First Test, Day 1 report: Joe Root, Moeen Ali put England on top

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On a chaotic day, England ended Day One of the first Test against India on a strong note by putting up 311 for the loss of four wickets at stumps at Rajkot. Vice-captain Joe Root scored a vital ton while all-rounder Moeen Ali remained unbeaten on 99 and bailed the team out of troubled waters after England were reduced to 102 for 3 at lunch. Root and Moeen added 179 runs for the fourth wicket, weathering the early storm of the spinners and then scoring freely to put the visitors in a commanding position on Day 1.

For India, there was not much to cheer about as Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two wickets while Ravindra Jadeja and Umesh Yadav got a wicket each. Pacer Mohammed Shami and leg-spinner Amit Mishra went wicketless. At the end of Day 1, Moeen (99) and Ben Stokes (19) were at the crease.

After winning the toss, England skipper Alastair Cook opted to bat first. Cook walked out to bat with teenager Haseeb Hameed, who made his debut today. Hameed, who has scored heavily in the current English County season, started positively by adding 47 runs with Cook for the first wicket.

The Indian fielders did their bit in helping the opening pair as they dropped three catches in the first half-an-hour of the day’s play. It all started in the very first over when Ajinkya Rahane dropped Cook’s catch in the gully off Shami. In the very next over, Cook got his fair share of luck when Kohli dropped him in the slip off Umesh’s bowling.

After Cook got two reprieves in no time, it was interesting to see if Hameed would get a chance, and honestly the debutant got one, as he was put down in the slip cordon by Murali Vijay. However, the openers failed to make much of their chances.

Kohli introduced spin in the 10th over and India instantly got their rewards. Cook who shuffled across the stumps to play Jadeja’s delivery, got hit on his right pad and was given lbw by the umpire. The England skipper went for a chat with his partner Hameed at the other end and after consulting, decided not to go for the Decision Review System (DRS), which was used for the first time in a Test series in India. Had Cook reviewed it, he would have survived as the ball was missing leg.

Cook’s departure brought Root to the crease, and the Yorkshire man added 29-runs for the second wicket with Hameed, before the debutant was trapped in front of the stumps by Ashwin. The 19-year old reviewed his dismissal, which looked out on first view and the umpire upheld the decision.

Promising young gun, Ben Duckett, who made his Test debut against Bangladesh, started on a positive note thrashing Ashwin for three boundaries in an over. But Ashwin had the last laugh as the off-spinner foxed Duckett with a slower delivery and produced an outside edge which was superbly caught by Rahane in the slip.

Duckett’s dismissal took place right at the stroke of lunch as England went inside with the score reading 3 for 102. Had India managed to take their chances, England should have found themselves in a deep trouble, yet the hosts dominated the first session.

Everyone hoped India to push England on the back-foot post lunch, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the visitors made amends and captured the second session. Root and Moeen batted brilliantly to take England to 3 for 209. Root scored his 24th half-century, while Moeen kept ticking runs from the other end. When Root was on 92, he suffered a scare as Kohli decided to review. But, he survived on umpire’s call.

Later, Root showed why his name is in a different league of players. He smashed his 11th Test hundred in the final session of the day’s play, before getting dismissed by Umesh, who caught him off his own bowling. Root got out having made a brisk 124 off just 180 balls, not before some drama in the middle, as Umesh thrown the ball a bit early in celebrations and later tried to catch the ball again.

This created a doubt in umpire’s mind if the ball was in his control and they went upstairs. The TV umpire’s services were fine and he withheld the on-field umpire’s decision.

Root’s dismissal brought Ben Stokes at the crease. The all-rounder scored an unbeaten 19, adding 30 with Moeen for the fifth wicket. Moeen is not out on 99 and will look to get his first Test century in India when play resumes on Thursday.

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