Jamtha, Nagpur: India got the better of England on the opening day of the fourth and final Test on Thursday. On an awfully low and slow pitch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium here, the Indian bowlers bowled with unprecedented discipline as the tourists closed the day on 199 for 5 with debutant Joe Root (31) and Matt Prior (34) at the crease. Both added 60 runs to bring some semblance of normalcy to the English team that was limping at 139 for 5 at one time.
India gained the upper hand with the Kevin Pietersen wicket early in the final session. Pietersen, who racked up his 29th fifty, was looking good for big runs before Ravindra Jadeja had him caught by Pragyan Ojha at midwicket for 73. Ojha dove forward to complete a low catch. Among Indian bowlers, Jadeja and Ishant Sharma stood out with both taking two wickets each at the expense of 32 and 34 runs respectively, while Piyush Chawla took one scalp. India’s over-rate was extraordinary as they bowled 97 overs in the day.
Resuming the second session on 61 for 2, Pietersen and Jonathan Trott had taken their stand to 86 when the latter was clean bowled by Jadeja. Trott failed to read the line as he shouldered arms to a ball that angled in to rattle his off stump. Trott made 44. Ian Bell was the next to go off Chawla for one as Virat Kohli took a simple catch at short cover. The Three Lions went into tea at 133 for 4.
Ishant Sharma and debutant Ravindra Jadeja picked up two wickets apiece, while Pietersen scored a fifty for the visitors.
Early in the morning session, Ishant Sharma, the lone pacer in India’s squad in this match, struck in quick succession to remove Nick Compton and run-machine Alastair Cook with only 16 runs on the board after the tourists elected to bat first. Compton was caught behind for 3 following an uncomfortable stint at the crease.
Cook, however, was unlucky to be given lbw by Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena as replays showed the ball was missing his offstump by a mile. With Trott it was the other way round. On seven, he was trapped plumb by Ishant as showed by replays but Dharmasena turned the appeal down.
Earlier, Jadeja became 275th Indian to play Test cricket as he was named Yuvraj Singh’s replacement. The other change India did from the last Test was legspinner Chawla, who replaced Zaheer Khan. Chawla’s last Test came in April 2008 against South Africa. England also went in with a couple of changes, bringing Tim Bresnan in for the injured Steven Finn and Root in place of allrounder Samit Patel.