England began their series against India in a depressingly predictable fashion with another atrocious batting collapse at Trent Bridge.
The home side was bundled out for 183 on day one of the first Test, at one stage losing six wickets for 22 runs in 9.5 overs. They were indebted to captain Joe Root, who stroked a classy 64, adding 72 with Jonny Bairstow. But it was Bairstow’s demise on the stroke of tea that sparked the carnage, with Sam Curran’s cavalier 27 not out adding to the chaos.
India’s four-pronged pace attack was superb, bowling a full length to utilize the assistance on offer, particularly when the floodlights were turned on. Jasprit Bumrah claimed 4-46 and Mohammed Shami 3-28 for the tourists, who could even afford to omit masterful off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
India moved to 21-0 by the close, with openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul largely untroubled. The forecast is mixed for the remaining four days, but India may have already made a decisive move towards going 1-0 up in the five-Test series.
England beat India 4-1 here three years ago, but before this contest began there was a growing feeling that the tourists could earn their first victory in this country for 14 years. Virat Kohli’s men claimed a famous series win in Australia during the winter and appear to have all the tools to be successful in the UK.
England, on the other hand, has an inexperienced, inconsistent batting line-up and is missing the talismanic Ben Stokes, who has taken a break from the game to prioritize his mental wellbeing. Without the all-rounder, the hosts are struggling to balance their attack, and once again omitted spinner Jack Leach.
In addition, they have had almost no preparation for this game. Only Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have faced more than 100 deliveries in first-class cricket since the series defeat by New Zealand in June.
Zak Crawley has faced six, while Root, Bairstow, Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler, and Sam Curran had not played a single red-ball inning. In the case of Bairstow, Butler, and Curran, their last first-class cricket came on the winter tours of Sri Lanka and India.
On a pitch that gradually lost its green tinge under a sky that became increasingly leaden, England’s deficiencies were laid bare in a familiar clatter of wickets.
Where might England be without their captain? In the absence of Stokes, who is not only Root’s vice-captain but also his great friend, the skipper is the lone class act in the batting line-up.
Root was initially skittish, taking three fours off his first six balls, but grew into an innings of class that yielded his 50th Test half-century and also took him past Alastair Cook’s 15,737 runs to become England’s highest run-scorer in all international cricket. That he fell amid the collapse tells a story – it is too much for England to keep relying on Root. This summer and in the Ashes series in Australia this winter, England will struggle if the batters fail to support the skipper.
When India took the field in Southampton, it was a given that Jasprit Bumrah would be one of the key bowlers for the Men in Blue. In the first innings against New Zealand, barring a few patches, the India pacer was largely struggling, conceding 57 runs without picking a single wicket. While he had shown signs of improvement in the second innings, the wickets continued to be away from him, which led to an Indian loss.
Even in the warm-up game against County Select XI, the Indian pacer had only picked up a single wicket in two innings. Coming into the first Test in Nottingham against England, the pacer was under pressure, on the back of his continued failures, starting from the home series against India, where he averaged 32.25 with the ball.
Textbook new ball bowling from Jasprit Bumrah. Sent four balls across Rory Burns, before bringing one back in – excellent use of the early movement.