Ben Stokes carrying fight to India spinners as England battle on day one

By Sports Desk January 25, 2024

India’s spinners dialled up the heat on England on the first day of the first Test, leaving the tourists 215 for eight at tea on a turning track in Hyderabad.

Although the movement was not yet extreme, it was enough for the slow bowlers to share seven wickets in two sessions, with England captain Ben Stokes making a late charge on 43 not out.

Stokes’ hopes of batting first were realised when he won a crucial toss and, for 45 minutes, everything went England’s way as openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett kicked off the tour with a busy stand of 55.

But their fortunes nosedived as soon as the hosts swapped out seam for spin, losing three wickets in 21 balls for the addition of just five runs as familiar foes Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took hold.

The Yorkshire duo of Joe Root (29) and Jonny Bairstow (37), both experienced campaigners in these taxing conditions, worked hard to repair the damage with a 61-run partnership but trouble resurfaced after lunch.

England lost both in quick succession, Bairstow finding a good rhythm before falling to the ball of the day from Axar Patel and Root top-edging a sweep to short fine-leg.

India snapped up another three before the break, including debutant Tom Hartley for a lively 23, but could not shut down Stokes.

He collected five boundaries, turning up the aggression with some neat reverse sweeps and crisp drives to carry his side past the 200 mark.

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