England suffer another collapse as India dominate day one in Dharamsala

By Sports Desk March 07, 2024

England were left in a spin after Zak Crawley’s battling 79 as their final assignment on a long tour of India threatened to go awry in Dharamsala.

Seeking a consolation win in a series they trail 3-1, England endured a chastening opening day to the fifth Test after crumbling from 137 for two before Crawley’s dismissal to 218 all out in 57.4 overs.

From 175 for three, England lost Jonny Bairstow, on his 100th Test, Joe Root and Ben Stokes in eight deliveries, the first three of five wickets to fall for eight runs in a frenzied afternoon session.

The most recent first-class match at the HPCA Stadium saw all 36 wickets fall to seam but it was the spinners in clover on a turning pitch as Kuldeep Yadav collected five for 72 and Ravichandran Ashwin, also celebrating his 100th Test, polished off the lower order to finish with four for 51.

India rubbed salt into the wound through Yashasvi Jaiswal’s 57 off 58 balls while fellow opener Rohit Sharma went to stumps on 52 not out as the hosts closed on 135 for one – just 83 adrift of England.

Crawley had earlier shown plenty of grit after being tested by seamers and spinners alike and gradually gained fluency before Kuldeep found prodigious turn to prise him out. England seemed unable to pick the left-arm wrist-spinner’s variations as Ollie Pope, Bairstow and Stokes all fell to the googly.

Before play, a tearful Bairstow stood with his mother, sister and partner who held their infant child at an emotional cap presentation conducted by Root in the team huddle.

While Shoaib Bashir was fit to play, Ollie Robinson remained unwell which meant England assistants and ex-internationals Marcus Trescothick, 48, and Paul Collingwood, 47, were among fielding substitutes.

Stokes’ prediction this week of an “absolute belter” of a batting strip was not initially borne out as Crawley and Ben Duckett were given a working over by the returning Jasprit Bumrah, as well as Mohammed Siraj, who exploited extravagant seam movement in the cooler conditions of the Himalayan foothills.

Bumrah may have wondered how he ended his spell with 7-1-24-0 despite often challenging the outside edges of both openers. Kuldeep had no such misfortune as Duckett undid his good work by hoicking into the air on 27 and Shubman Gill’s over-the-shoulder diving catch ended a 64-run opening stand.

Pope was again skittish and misguidedly advanced to Kuldeep in the final over before lunch, deceived and stumped by wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel by a long way for 11.

Crawley, though, had success off front and back foot as all 11 fours were through the offside while he danced down the wicket to Ashwin and dispatched him for six.

India failed to detect a thin edge when Crawley was on 61 after lunch while Jadeja shelled a caught-and-bowled chance on 78 but there was no third reprieve for the opener, who missed a big drive and was castled by a ripping Kuldeep delivery that landed outside off and crashed into leg stump.

Bairstow’s frenetic 29 off 18 balls included two sixes as he moved past 6,000 Test runs and a drop off Kuldeep, who then outfoxed the Yorkshireman with a wrong’un which grazed the edge on the way to Jurel.

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 Kuldeep, the on-field lbw decision was again upheld and England’s captain departed for a six-ball duck.

England lost their middle-order engine room in eight balls and used all their reviews, with Ashwin sweeping in to hoover up the tail after Ben Foakes’ 24 took the tourists past 200.

England’s bid for quick wickets to put pressure back on India was hampered by James Anderson and Mark Wood being unable to find anything resembling the assistance Bumrah and Siraj had in the morning.

Rohit settled into his work by using Wood’s express pace against him with a meaty pull for six off a bumper before overturning a caught-behind decision on 20 after Anderson thought he had strangled India’s captain down leg.

The in-form Jaiswal was watchful against England’s two seamers but peeled off three mighty sixes in four balls when Bashir came into the attack.

Jaiswal continued to attack but succumbed to a rush of blood and was stumped off Bashir but Rohit and Shubman Gill, unbeaten on 26, finished strongly.

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