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India vs England, 1st Test: Joe Root's Classy Hundred, Sibley's Dogged Defiance Ensure England Dominate Opening Day

India vs England, 1st Test: Joe Root's Classy Hundred, Sibley's Dogged Defiance Ensure England Dominate Opening Day

England took the honours on Day 1 of the series opener in Chennai courtesy some dogged old-fashioned batting display by their opener Dom Sibley and a great hundred by captain and best batsman Joe Root. International cricket returned to India after a year and it was the visitors who dominated proceedings on the opening day which saw some classic textbook attritional Test cricket at the historic venue. After 89.3 overs in the heat and humidity at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, 56 of which were bowled by spin, England had moved to 263 for 3 with Root undefeated on a majestic 128 off 197 balls.

England took the honours on Day 1 of the series opener in Chennai courtesy some dogged old-fashioned batting display by their opener Dom Sibley and a great hundred by captain and best batsman Joe Root. International cricket returned to India after a year and it was the visitors who dominated proceedings on the opening day which saw some classic textbook attritional Test cricket at the historic venue. After 89.3 overs in the heat and humidity at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, 56 of which were bowled by spin, England had moved to 263 for 3 with Root undefeated on a majestic 128 off 197 balls.

The day belonged to Root who became the third batsman from England to register a hundred in his 100th Test after Colin Cowdrey and Alec Stewart. The feat has been previously achieved by 8 other batsmen on 9 occasions (Ponting registered a hundred in each innings of his 100th Test).

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England were given a solid start by their openers, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley who made use of a good toss won by their captain, Joe Root who had no hesitation in batting first. Ishant Sharma was brilliant in his comeback Test and bowled with pace and fire making the ball swing in both directions but with no real help from the placid Chennai pitch he could not get India the breakthrough with the new ball. Jasprit Bumrah, playing his first Test at home almost had Burns off the first ball he bowled in India but Rishabh Pant dropped a tough chance diving to his right.

Local boy, R Ashwin, India's greatest match-winner with the ball at home in Test cricket, was introduced early in the 8th over giving the seamers a respite in the Chennai heat and humidity. England scored just 37 in the first hour of play but more crucially had seen off the best of India's attack without losing a wicket. Both Burns and Sibley looked confident and assured at the crease, defended well against pace and spin and did not show any signs of nerves playing against India in India.

They left well but also put away the rare bad deliveries. The pair soon brought up the fifty stand in the 20th over - it was England's first half century partnership in 10 Test innings. They could not have chosen a more opportune time to come together and provide a good platform for the likes of Root, Stokes and Buttler - the first day of the four-Test series.

The duo had taken England to 63 before Burns, against the run of play, attempted an audacious reverse sweep off the bowling of Ashwin only to glove a sitter to Pant. India had their first breakthrough.

Bumrah made it a twin blow for the visitors when he had Dan Lawrence plumb leg before wicket to a sharp incoming delivery just a couple of overs later. From what was England's session for the first one and a half hours suddenly became India's and the visitors went into Lunch at 67 for 2 in 27 overs.

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India began the post Lunch session bowling a tight and restrictive line conceding just 14 runs in the first 11 overs. But as the Indian bowlers tired down Root and Sibley up the ante and started picking boundaries at regular intervals. Sweeps, back foot punches, pulls and cover drives - both the batsmen gave a glimpse of their shot-making prowess leaving India on the defensive. Sibley registered his fifty off 159 deliveries - an innings full of concentration and defiance. He had late last month scored an unbeaten 56 in the second innings chasing Sri Lanka's 164 to win the second Test in Galle.

Root looked comfortable against Ashwin and Nadeem and gave India an early warning of why he is considered as one of the best amongst the non Asian players in Asia and against spin. The pair put together an unbroken 77 run stand to take England to Tea at 140 for 2. The post Lunch session was dominated by England. They did not lose a wicket and also scored 73 runs in 30 overs in the middle session.

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The hundred of the partnership came in 38 overs when Root caressed Bumrah for a majestic cover-drive. The third session was dominated by England bearing the fruits of the hardwork and toil put in the first couple of sessions of the innings. They rotated the strike beautifully, hardly played a false shot and put away a number of bad deliveries on offer to the boundary. The biggest disappointment for India was the bowling of Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar, both playing in only their second Test match. The left-arm orthodox bowler was drafted into the side given the problems England have had against the type of bowling but was ineffective not able to maintain a tight line and length. He went for 69 in his 20 overs conceding a number of boundaries post Tea and also over stepping on four occasions. Sundar, known for his restrictive bowling, was hammered for 55 off his 12 overs.

Root pressed on the accelerator in the last couple of hours and was severe on both Nadeem and Sundar. He recorded his 20th Test hundred and became the third English batsman to register a century in his 100th Test notching the three-figure mark off 164 deliveries. He had raced from 50 (off 110 balls) to his hundred in just 54 deliveries. India took the second new ball in the 82nd over and were rewarded with a breakthrough in the last over of the day when Bumrah trapped Sibley leg before wicket for 87 off 286 deliveries. That ended a splendid 200 run stand off 390 deliveries between Sibley and Root.

England ended Day 1 at 263 for 3 with Root unbeaten on 128 off 197 deliveries. The third session belonged to England - they scored 123 runs losing just one wicket in the session.

There were a couple of questionable tactics by captain Virat Kohli in the last session. The inexperienced Nadeem and Sundar bowled 12 overs in tandem leaking plenty of runs and boundaries. India was waiting for the new ball but maybe Ashwin should have been deployed from one end to keep things under control. Root and Sibley made use of this and took the game away from India. Secondly, Ashwin just bowled just four overs post Tea. He was the most threatening Indian bowler and troubled both Root and Sibley getting some purchase from the wicket even in the final session. Maybe the heat and humidity and trying conditions in Chennai forced Kohli to hold back Ashwin but that certainly played into the hands of the English batsmen.

The shot which exemplified Root's great hundred and commitment in Chennai today came off the bowling of Ashwin off the last ball of the 87th over when he clubbed the off spinner for six over cow corner even as he went down with cramps.



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RankTeamPointsRating
1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
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1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
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2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
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