The first day of the fourth test certainly belonged to the Indian pace bowlers as they bundled out England for 246 at the Ageas Bowl.
The Indian opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul then managed to survive the tricky period towards the end of the day, as India finished at 19/0.
Home skipper Joe Root won the toss and opted to bat first, a decision that backfired badly on the hosts. Given Southampton’s record as a batting paradise and a wicket capable of assisting spin, Root’s decision was probably understandable, but he had not accounted for India’s bowlers, who have shown great venom since the induction of Jasprit Bumrah into the starting XI
England at lunch were reeling at 57 for four after Bumrah and Ishant Sharma wreaked havoc with the new ball in conditions that were favouring swing.
Bumrah dismissed Keaton Jennings for a duck and Jonny Bairstow for 6 in first 30 minutes of the morning session.
Ishant Sharma joined the party too as he provided brilliant support by dismissing Joe Root (4) with a beautiful in-swinging delivery.
After lunch, Mohammed Shami got into the act by claiming the wickets of Jos Buttler (21) and Ben Stokes (23) in quick succession, as England crumbled to 87/6.
Edgbaston hero Sam Curran along with Moeen Ali, then bailed England out of trouble with a brilliant 81-run partnership.
Post Ali’s departure, Curran stitched another valuable 63-run stand with Stuart Broad for the ninth wicket to take the home team past 200 run mark.
Thanks to support from his lower middle order, the young left hander guided his team to a respectable score. He was the last wicket to fall, bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin for 78.
This could end up being a very memorable series for Indian skipper Virat Kohli. On the first day of his career (when he was pranked by Sachin Tendulkar, as seen on CricPreachers), he would perhaps not have imagined this- a series abroad with the Indian bowlers firing on all cylinders and Kohli himself in the form of his life as a batsman.
This Southampton test, interestingly enough, is also the first time in Kohli’s tenure as captain that he has gone with the same XI in consecutive tests.
For India, Bumrah was the most successful bowler claiming three wickets. Sharma, Shami and Ashwin bagged two wickets each, with Hardik Pandya also contributing by removing Alastair Cook.
India still trail England by 227 runs in the first innings.
England (246 all out), India 19/0- at the end of Day 1.