England took charge of the fourth Test match on day one at Old Trafford as their bowlers, led by Stuart Broad's 6-25, produced a fantastic spell of seam and swing bowling to wreak havoc on the Indian batting line-up to dismiss them for just 152.
By the close of play England had closed on 113-3 in reply, just 39 runs behind and well in command of this match.
A good toss to lose
England headed into the game on a crest of a wave after their resounding 266-run victory over India at Southampton in the third Test match and decided to stick with the same winning formula, despite Steven Finn being called up into the squad.
India, meanwhile, made three changes to their defeated side, bringing in Ravichandran Ashwin as specialist spinner, Gautam Gambhir to open the batting and pace bowler Varun Aaron. The three players to make way were Shikhar Dhawan, who has been out of form at the top of the order, fast bowler Mohammed Shami and batsman Rohit Sharma.
The Indian captain MS Dhoni decided to bat first after winning the toss, a decision that Alastair Cook was glad he didn’t have to make. Clearly Dhoni wanted to make a positive start with the bat to put pressure on the hosts but his decision backfired badly and played into England's hands. At the time it felt a bold decision given the delayed start and overhead conditions at Old Trafford, and so it proved.
Unlike at Lord's in the second Test, England's bowlers did take advantage of the favourable conditions this time around. One of the best exponents of the swinging ball, James Anderson, and his fellow opening bowler Stuart Broad exposed an Indian batting line-up that showed its fragility and lack of experience in English conditions.
Anderson and Broad produced a fantastic new-ball spell that reduced India to 8-4 in the first six overs with both bowlers capturing two wickets each. Time and again the Indians pushed at the swinging ball outside off-stump and were caught in the slip cordon, a clear technical issue that needs to be addressed.
It was left to Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni to try and rescue their side. They managed to battle their way through to a fifty partnership for the fifth wicket until shortly before lunch Rahane (24) was the fifth Indian to be caught in the slips, once again edging a full swinging delivery, this time from Chris Jordan.
The first session was undoubtedly England's as the two sides headed for lunch with India on 63-5 and in serious trouble.
The afternoon session started in the same vein as Anderson once again produced the goods dismissing his nemesis Jadeja, for a seven-ball duck. However, India, under the guidance of their captain Dhoni (71) rallied again as he, and the recalled Ashwin (40), produced a partnership of 66 to give the Indians a sense of respectability.
But once Ashwin was dismissed by Broad, with the score on 129-7, this sparked another collapse as the Notts bowler helped himself to three further wickets, including the prized scalp of Dhoni, to leave India all out for 152 at tea.
Broad bowled extremely to secure at 12th five-wicket-plus haul in Test cricket, while he was ably supported by the reliable Anderson, who finished with 3-46. Six of the Indian batsmen were dismissed for ducks which equalled the record for a Test match innings.
England in command
England began their reply knowing that a strong final session would leave them in a dominant position in the Test.
Openers Alastair Cook and Sam Robson were initially untroubled until the latter (6) left a Kumar in-swinging delivery which clattered into his stumps, with the score on 21. The captain then the followed (17), having been troubled by a short ball by paceman Varun Aaron to leave England on 36-2. India, at this stage, believed they had a chance of getting back into the match.
However, England's form batsmen from Southampton, Gary Ballance (37) and Ian Bell (45*) produced a third wicket partnership of 76 to give England control of the match. Ballance was dismissed shortly before the close by Aaron (2-26), but Bell, and night-watchman Chris Jordan, ensured England reached 113-3 at the close and in a dominant position in the match and the series.
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