England entered play on day one of the fifth and final Test match of the series with a 2-1 lead over India, following a triumphant win in under three days at Old Trafford.
England started the series coming off the back of a disappointing 1-0 series loss at home to Sri Lanka, and obviously following the embarrassment suffered at the hands of Australia during the previous winter’s Ashes series, which almost tore the entire team apart.
Whilst they are in a position that they can't lost the series against India, it is vital that England return to winning ways, and they are certainly in a strong position to do so after the first day of the final Test.
Following more classic “English summer” weather which delayed the start of play by half an hour, England’s pace bowlers wasted little time to make inroads in the Indian batting order, short on form and confidence following the fourth test match.
James Anderson began proceedings just seven wickets shy of Ian Botham’s all time wicket taking record in Test matches for England. The 32-year-old from Lancashire took just four deliveries to reduce this deficit to six, as he claimed the prize wicket of Gautam Gambhir for a golden duck.
That set the momentum for the rest of the Indian innings, as a consistent fall of wickets led the visitors to a dismal 43-5 at the lunch break.
After lunch whilst the rest of his team kept fatally mistiming shots and it looked as if getting 100 runs as a team was unlikely, the Indian captain, MS Dhoni took command and refused to let his team go down without a fight.
Dhoni came to the crease when his side were 28-4 and was still there at the tea break when India were grateful for a much needed regrouping session with the score at 125-9 - with 65 of those runs off the captain's bat.
The 20 minute break didn’t appear to hinder Dhoni’s concentration as the skipper quickly excelled to 82 runs before smacking a Stuart Broad bouncer straight to Chris Woakes on the boundary.
Whilst Dhoni was still 18 runs away from his eighth Test match century, he gave his side a fighting chance as they were bowled out for 148. By no means is this a good score, but without the captain’s resistance they would not have reached anything near their final total.
A captain's knock
Just how big a contribution did Dhoni make to his side’s innings? He was one of just three batsmen to reach double figures, and the only one to reach into the 20s.
As well as putting up by far the highest score of the Indian innings, he actually scored over 55 percent of his team’s runs. That is, he scored more runs than the rest of his team combined. Talk about a captain's innings.
Whilst ultimately Dhoni will be very disappointed (and rightly so) in his side’s performance, as well as missing out on three figures, the Indian skipper should hold his head up high for giving his side at least something to bowl at.