Root, Ali put England in command
RAJKOT: Excellent batting by Joe Root and Moen Ali helped England stage a strong recovery in their first innings on the opening day of the first cricket Test against India here on Wednesday.
Coming together after England lost three wickets in the first session of the day, Root and Ali added 107 runs between them to help the visitors to a score of 311/4 at stumps.
Root scored 124 before being caught and bowled by pacer Umesh Yadav. Ali was on the cusp of a well deserved century as he was unbeaten on 99 at the close of the day’s play.
Ben Stokes, who was batting on 19, was giving Ali company at stumps.
For India, star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struck early blows as England struggled in the first session of the day.
Ashwin returned figures of 2/108 while Jadeja notched up 1/59. Yadav toiled hard for 18.5 overs for figures of 1/68.
Electing to bat on winning the toss, England were off to a steady start with the opening duo of captain Alistair Cook and debutant Haseeb Hameed batting cautiously.
Cook was lucky to survive in the first over when he edged a Mohammed Shami delivery into the slips only to see Ajinkya Rahane drop a relatively easy chance.
Jadeja struck the first blow for India, trapping Cook lbw with a delivery that turned into the England skipper’s pads after pitching. Cook attempted a flick but could not make contact as Jadeja appealed successfully for the decision.
The 19-year-old Hameed, the youngest opener to debut for England, hit six boundaries during his 82-ball 31 before being trapped leg before after misjudging the turn of an Ashwin delivery.
Duckett was also undone by Ashwin’s guile as he edged one to the slips and Rahane made no mistake this time round.
That was the last bit of success the Indians would be able to celebrate for quite some time as Root and Ali proceeded to try and bring the England innings back on track.
The duo ensured that the visitors lost no wickets in the post-lunch session and reached a respectable position by the tea break.
Root hit 11 boundaries and a six during his 180-ball innings while Ali had nine hits to the fence.
By the Root pushed an attempted drive into Yadav’s hands in the post tea session, England were in a relatively comfortable position at 281/4.
Stokes then joined Ali in the middle and proceeded to play a patient 41-ball knock even as the latter edged towards his century.