After bowling India out for 148, England were trailing by 86 runs at stumps at the Kennington Oval. While the England pace attack ran through the Indian line-up, MS Dhoni put up a fighting 82 to guide India to a three-digit score. He found an able ally in Ishant Sharma to add 58 runs for the last wicket and stretch the Indian innings into the last session after being asked to bat. While James Anderson and Stuart Broad claimed two wickets each, Chris Jordon and Chris Woakes picked three wickets apiece to bowl India out and bring back memories of the fourth Test.
With England in a commanding position Alastair Cook and Sam Robson came out to bat in the final session of the day. The pair negotiated Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant watchfully as the duo asked questions off the England batsmen early on.
Varun Aaron and Stuart Binny then strove to keep the batsmen in check as the England openers carried the innings forward. When play ended, the home team were 62 without loss with Cook batting on 24 and Robson on 33.
As the innings progressed, Robson garnered runs more freely as he drove the Indian pacers to the boundary.
Earlier, England’s new ball bowling pair - James Anderson and Stuart Broad had maintained a strangle hold on the innings from the word go after a delayed start to the game. While the pair stifled the flow of runs and struck early to leave the visitors on 10/2, Chris Jordon and Chris Woakes kept up with the tone set by them.
Off the fourth ball of the match, Anderson had Gautam Gambhir nick to the wicketkeeper and return for naught. With India yet to open their account, Cheteshwar Pujara came to the crease but was kept in check by the bowling pair of Anderson and Broad. While an early edge didn’t carry, his shaky stay at the crease was soon brought to an end by Broad. The pacer dislodged Pujara’s bails with a delivery that came in, grazed the batsman’s arm before disrupting the woodwork.
Virat Kohli then joined Murali Vijay but managed only six runs before being adjudged leg-before off Jordon who had replaced Broad from one end.
With India having lost three wickets for 26 runs in the first hour, Ajinkya Rahane took guard as India once again needed rescuing. But 14 balls later, the middle-order bat handed a simple return catch to Jordon and returned for a duck.
MS Dhoni then found himself in the middle sooner than he would have liked. Little had changed in terms of fortunes as far as both the teams were concerned. India continued to flounder while England maintained the upper hand that they had gained in the third Test.
Eight runs later Vijay’s resolve was broken as Woakes took the edge of the opener’s bat and Root at gully took the catch. Binny who had come in to the team for Ravindra Jadeja then replaced the opener in the middle and rallied on with the captain to take the team to Lunch on 43/5.
Dhoni kept the innings afloat as wickets fell in a heap at the other end. The Indian captain took blows on his body as he fought it out in the middle. Anderson induced an edge off Stuart Binny which was caught by Alastair Cook in the slips to give the first breakthrough post Lunch.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who had displayed patience with the bat in the previous Test then came to the crease. However, six overs later, a low catch by Root at gully after Woakes had induced an edge sent him back for 13.
Bhuvneshwar, who has shown his skill with the bat earlier in the series was the next to come to the crease as India wobbled on 68/7 and were in the danger of folding up before reaching the three-figure mark. 11 runs later a Chris Jordon delivery took a faint edge of the bottom of his bat as Bhuvneshwar heaved at it and Joss Buttler dove to his right to take the catch. Five overs later Woakes removed Varun Aaron to bring to crease India’s No 11.
Meanwhile Ishant Sharma looked tentative at the crease and got a reprieve while batting on 1 as Ian Bell dropped him at slips. Dhoni whipped Jordon to the fence later in the over to bring up India’s 100. Farming the strike the India captain inched towards his half-century in adverse circumstances. Nudging Woakes down the leg-side, he brought up a well fought fifty in the extended second session off Woakes.
With the last wicket partnership worth 23 runs, Cook reintroduced Anderson into the attack with a view to end the innings. Dhoni whacked the ace pacer through mid-off to collect four runs. With the Dhoni-Ishant pair putting up a fight, Moeen Ali was introduced into the attack in the 56th over but couldn’t wrap-up the Indian innings in the extended second session.
Dhoni who had dropped anchor and held fort was dismissed by Broad five overs into the last session of the day. The end of an exemplary knock ended India’s first innings too. Ishant remained unbeaten on seven as the Indian innings was wrapped up in 61.1 overs.Brief scores:Day 1:
India 1st inn 148 all out in 61.1 overs (MS Dhoni 82, C Woakes 3/30, C Jordon 3/32); England 1st inn 62/0 in 19 overs (S Robson 33*, A Cook 24*)