England collapse again as Kuldeep Yadav leaves them in a spin

By Sports Desk March 07, 2024

England unravelled after Zak Crawley’s battling 79 as India left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav claimed five wickets on the opening day of the fifth Test in Dharamsala.

From 175 for three, England lost three wickets in 13 balls and burned all three reviews as Jonny Bairstow, on his 100th Test, and Ben Stokes fell to Kuldeep, with Joe Root lbw to Ravindra Jadeja.

Crawley had earlier overcome a probing opening spell from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj in helpful seaming conditions but was the first of six wickets to fall in a frenzied afternoon session, with five falling for just eight runs.

The tourists, seeking a consolation win after falling 3-1 down in the five-match series, were all out for 218 shortly after tea as Ravichandran Ashwin claimed four for 51 in his 100th Test.

Bairstow was overcome with emotion as he was presented with his 100th Test cap by fellow Yorkshireman Root in a team huddle where his mother, sister, partner and infant child were present.

Stokes said this week the pitch would be “absolutely belting” for batting so had little hesitation upon winning the toss, allowing Shoaib Bashir a little more time to convalesce after missing Wednesday’s final practice because of an upset stomach.

Ollie Robinson was back at the team hotel and with England down to 13 players, assistant coaches and ex-internationals Marcus Trescothick, 48, and Paul Collingwood, 47, were listed among the substitute fielders.

The cooler conditions in the foothills of the Himalayas initially aided India’s seamers and especially Bumrah, who repeatedly went past the outside edge. An 85mph delivery behaved like a leg-break to beat Crawley all ends up, underlining the challenge England’s openers faced off the pitch.

Crawley had success off back and front foot, with some eye-catching drives through the covers, while Duckett hunkered down as England’s opening pair dug deep to put on their fifth 50-stand of the series.

But Duckett undid his hard work in Kuldeep’s first over as a leading edge ballooned into the off side and was caught over his shoulder by a diving Shubman Gill.

Crawley moved to his fifty and hammered the initially ineffective Ashwin for six but, after England moved to three figures, Ollie Pope was stumped for 11 after misreading Kuldeep’s googly from the final ball before lunch.

Crawley should have been out to the second ball of the afternoon after glancing to short-leg but India elected not to review but there was no DRS needed when the England opener was beaten through the gate and castled by a sharply-turning delivery from Kuldeep.

Bairstow had a frenetic 18-ball innings that yielded 29 runs, with two sixes – the second taking him to 6,000 Test runs – and a drop on 21 by Kuldeep, who atoned by grazing the Yorkshireman’s edge after he was foxed by the wrong’un.

Bairstow reviewed in vain, as did Root after he was beaten on the inside edge and struck on the front pad for 26 in Jadeja’s next over. When Stokes turned to DRS after playing back to another Kuldeep googly, the on-field lbw decision was again upheld and England’s captain departed for a six-ball duck.

While Ben Foakes dug in to take England past 200, Ashwin hoovered up the lower order either side of tea on his landmark appearance.

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