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Report: England vs India, 4th Test - Day 1

Broad claims six to put England in driver’s seat

England reached 113 for three at stumps on the first day of the fourth cricket Test after Stuart Broad's six-wicket haul had India shot out for 152 here today.

For India Mahendra Singh Dhoni scored 71 while Broad took six for 25. Among England batsmen, Ian Bell remained unbeaten on 45 while Gary Ballance scored 37. Varun Aaron took two for 26 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the other wicket.

Alastair Cook and Sam Robson came out to bat and had put together 21 runs when the latter was dismissed. Bhuvneshwar Kumar knocked back Robson’s off-stump with an in-swinger to send him back for six. And 15 runs later, Varun Aaron accounted for Cook with the short ball to leave England on 36/2.

Ian Bell then joined Gary Balance, who has been in good nick, in the middle and the pair collected runs of the Indian attack at a steady pace. Both batsmen timed the ball well and found the boundary at will as they closed in on India’s sub-par first innings total.

Having bent their backs, India finally got a much needed breakthrough late in the day when Aaron had Ballance leg-before. Chris Jordon then came in to see England through the remaining balls of the day.

When play ended, Bell was batting on 45 with the night-watchman.

Earlier, Broad and James Anderson clinically ran through the Indian line-up in 46.4 overs at the Old Trafford. The new-ball bowling pair utilised the seaming conditions and the bounce on offer to their advantage to push India into a corner after a delayed start. Winning the toss was the only thing that had gone India’s way as three of the top four batsmen returned to the dressing room without opening their accounts. By the end of the innings the count of Indian batsmen to return for naught had doubled.

After Dhoni opted to bat, Gautam Gambhir, back in the side after over a year and half, was the first to be dismissed with the visitors on eight. Done in by the bounce, the left-handed opener departed fending Broad to gully. In the next over, Murali Vijay edged a fuller delivery from Anderson to Cook at first slip to return for a duck. A ball later, Virat Kohli too edged the ace pacer to the England captain to return for zero. Cheteshwar Pujara was the next to be dismissed for a duck in the following over by Broad.

With a vigilant slip cordon the fast bowlers ran in hard and kept the Indian line-up on their toes. With Anderson swinging the ball; with it swinging the fortune England’s way and Broad banging the ball hard, India were kept on a tight leash. Rahane and Dhoni braved the storm for a while and stitched a 54-run partnership as they worked to keep the team afloat. Playing watchfully the duo soothed the nerves as they brought up India’s fifty.

Chris Woakes and Jordon too tested the pair with short balls and swinging deliveries as England held the upper-hand. As the morning session had settled into a lull and India looked like they would end it without further mishaps, Rahane pushed at a Jordon delivery to Bell at second slip to depart for 24 in the second last over before Lunch.

Ravindra Jadeja was the next to return to the pavilion for zero. The left-hand bat who was yet to open his account when India resumed on 63/5 after lunch, was trapped lbw by Anderson early in the second session.

Dhoni then found an ally in Ravichandran Ashwin and the duo built a 66-run partnership as they toiled to keep the Indian innings from folding.

Ashwin, playing his first game of the tour had come to the crease in challenging circumstances and kept the score board ticking. However, while on 40 he perished pulling Broad to Sam Robson at deep square-leg.

Dhoni who had stealthily held up one end then brought up his fifty with a crisp drive to the fence. But, there was little to cheer for as Bhuvneshwar lost his stumps to Broad in the next over to return without contributing to the team’s tally.

And a few overs later with the score on 152, Dhoni departed mis-hitting the ball to deep backward square-leg while looking to go over mid-wicket. Two balls later, Broad bowled Pankaj Singh to bring curtains down on the Indian innings.

While England fielded an unchanged squad from their previous Test, India brought in Gambhir, Ashwin and Varun Aaron for Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami.

Brief scores:

Day 1: India 1st inn 152 all out in 46.4 overs (MS Dhoni 71, R Ashwin 40, S Broad 6/25, J Anderson 3/46); England 1st inn 113/3 in 35 overs (I Bell 45*, G Ballance 37, V Aaron 2/26).

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Pacers refreshed after break: Dhoni

Indian skipper says his tiring pace bowlers are back on the radar

Indian pace bowlers did a remarkable job in the first two Tests, at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, often out-bowling their English counterparts in their own backyard. However, there was a marked difference in their performance in the third Test.

India lost Ishant Sharma to injury and his absence was felt. Pankaj Singh bowled his heart out but went wicketless on his Test debut. And MS Dhoni admitted after the match that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was a bit tired after the workload in the first two matches.

Going into the Old Trafford Test with the series in balance, Dhoni hopes his quicker bowlers are refreshed after the five-day gap since the last match.

“The match will really tell us how fresh they really are. In the break, best we could have managed is work on fitness and manage their workloads, and we have done that really well. So I hope that when we turn up on the field they will be fresh and raring to go,” Dhoni said.

Although Dhoni rued his bowling attack’s inability to pick 20 wickets in Southampton, he also puts the onus on his batsmen to give the bowlers a comfortable cushion of runs to play with.

“It is very important to pick 20 wickets to win a Test but we cannot forget that it is also important to score runs,” the captain said. “If u get 500-550 runs, the opposition batsmen will be under pressure unless they bat well for two-three sessions.

It is important in cricket that the pace of scoring and getting wickets is in balance. If opposition gets more than three runs per over but are losing wickets regularly it is good because they won’t get a lot of runs. We have worked on it over the last couple days and strategy wise things are looking positive.”

On his bowling combination for the fourth Test, Dhoni sad, “We couldn’t take a lot of wickets in the last match, dropped a few catches as well and it didn’t look like we will take 20 wickets on that pitch. So we will see how the wicket is and then we will see who our best four-five bowlers are on this pitch.”

If India are to bat England out, they will need more runs from the blades of the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. While Pujara has one half-century against his name, Virat has been struggling to get past the 30s.

Dhoni feels a big knock is just “around the corner” for his No. 4 batsman. “What you need to see is that Virat is batting really well,” Dhoni said. “At times you get out to good deliveries or you just get out. But I feel he is batting well and is looking in good nick. So, it is just a matter of time.
“He may not have converted his starts into big innings but the kind of talent he is we know a big score is around the corner and he will come strong.

The skipper also believed a dull patch like this will help Virat grow as a batsman. “Also, this is a phase that will improve him as a cricketer. If you only go through one phase – if you are doing only well or only doing badly for a long time – it doesn’t improve you. It is the fluctuation that improves you as a cricketer and as a team. It’s a constant process. And this phase will make him a better cricketer,” Dhoni said.