England thwarted India’s Independence Day celebrations on day one of the fifth Test at The Oval, bowling the visitors out for 148.
Excellent bowling performance
Having little choice but to bowl first in an overcast south London, England reduced India to 90-9, but once again struggled against a tenth-wicket partnership, this time made up of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the returning Ishant Sharma.
Dhoni hit 82 before eventually being caught by Chris Woakes off the bowling of Stuart Broad, the India captain accounting for over half of his side’s runs.
After being dropped by Ian Bell with India nine down, Sharma proved a usefully stubborn partner at the tail end, scoring a drudging 7 off 42 balls.
However, there was less positive news for the 25-year-old at the start of England’s innings, as he looked troubled by the ankle injury that has kept him out of the last two Tests. He appeared unhappy with the footholds of the wicket, but was able to continue.
Earlier, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan led the way with the ball for England, taking three wickets apiece. Stuart Broad also sealed two dismissals, but did not appear to be wearing the expected facial protection after breaking his nose last time out.
James Anderson also weighed in with the wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Stuart Binny, but will have to wait until India’s second innings if he is to take the final six wickets that will see him surpass Sir Ian Botham’s record of 383.
Anderson will be aiming to hit that target before the end of the series, particularly if he is to live up to captain Alistair Cook’s claims that he is as good as world number one Dale Steyn.
England survive at the close
India, on the other hand, will be disappointed to have handed England the advantage so early on in the Test.
Apart from Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin and opener Murali Vijay were the only Indian batsmen to break into double figures, as head coach Duncan Fletcher will be left to rue yet another poor batting performance.
His side were also unfortunate in their first spell in the field, with Cook lucky not to be out lbw early on. India’s acceptance of the Decision Review System (DRS) might be an unsurprising legacy of this series.
Cook’s opening partner, Sam Robson, came into the Test under even more pressure to perform than his captain, but the pair put on a 62-run partnership before stumps.
After a single day’s cricket, England already look in a comfortable position as they seek to wrap up the series.