Indian spinners were tested as Joe Root batted with his customary elegance in company of Moeen Ali to help England stage an impressive recovery reaching 209 for 3 at tea on the first day of the first cricket Test, here.
At the break, the duo added 107 runs for the fourth wicket in 31.3 overs as none of the Indian bowlers failed to break the deadlock. Root was batting on 93 while Moeen Ali is inching towards his half-century at 48.
Virat Kohli will also be a bit worried as his premier fast bowler Mohammed Shami walked off the field feeling his hamstring having bowled only 9.1 overs.
Root is only 7 runs short of his 11th Test hundred in 49 Tests.His faced 144 balls so far having batted 177-minute hitting nine fours. Ali faced 95 balls and struck four boundaries.
Thanks to this pair and their unbroken century stand the tourists, who lost captain Alastair Cook, his debutant opening partner Haseeb Hameed and Ben Dockett before lunch, the tourists held the upper hand in the opening skirmish of the five-game rubber.
In the first session, Ashwin had accounted for the wickets of Hameed, whose dismissal also brought into play the Decision Review System for the first ever time in a Test match played in this country, and Duckett.
Home town boy Jadeja had earlier given India the first break at 47 by earning successfully a shout for leg before wicket against England skipper Cook.
But thereafter India’s success in wicket-taking ended, although they came close to dislodging Root close to tea who escaped a referral, the first called for by the home side in the match, after being hit low on the front pad by Umesh Yadav.
The not out decision by on-field umpire was reviewed by the Indians but replays showed the ball just kissing the leg stump and the original not out decision remained.
Skipper Kohli had rung in bowling changes at both ends in order to break the fourth-wicket stand between Root and Ali but all came to naught due to diligent batting on an easy-paced SCA Stadium track by the right-left pair who joined hands post lunch.
Root continued to hold one end up and also kept things going ahead in terms of runs post-lunch in the company of No 5 batsman Ali, who had joined him in the second session after the fall of the third wicket in the final over before the interval.
Both easily negotiated the bowling of Mohammed Shami and Ashwin post lunch with judicious batting. Shami, after four overs, and Ashwin after completing his unfinished over before lunch and then six more into the second session, gave way to Yadav and Jadeja who too hardly made any impression on the two batsmen.
Root, meanwhile reached his career’s 25th half century with a single in 92 minutes and off 72 balls. He batted quite sedately after the lunch break. The visitors added 54 runs in 16.3 overs in the first hour post lunch and India skipper Virat Kohli brought on Amit Mishra for his second spell in place of Yadav who leaked 22 runs in an unimpressive second spell of four overs.
But the move hardly made any impression on the two batsmen who milked the bowling, which looked a bit thin, comfortably.In the first session, the home team had removed three visiting team’s wickets but also allowed England to score good runs at a fast clip.
The visiting team, who won the toss and opted to bat in the maiden Test hosted by this city, lost Cook for 21 and debutant Hameed for 31 on either side of the first drinks break.
The tourists then lost left hander Ben Dockett, batting at No 4 to accommodate Hameed at the top, off the third ball of the last over from premier Indian spinner Ashwin to adjourn for lunch at 102 for three wickets, with Joe Root the unbeaten batsman on 35.
Both the England opening batsmen were out leg before the wicket and England seemed to have erred with their DRS calls on both occasions – surprisingly not reviewing the verdict given against their captain and mainstay Cook and then going for a review of the decision against rookie Hameed.
In the morning, India’s lengthy luck with the toss in home Tests ended finally. Still they could have put England in early trouble but were let down by sloppy catching in the slip cordon.
Off the third ball of the series Ajinkya Rahane put down India’s scourge and rival captain Cook off Shami at gully after getting both palms wrapped around the ball by diving to his right.
Then it was the turn of Murali Vijay to let off debutant and right hander Hameed at first slip, a low catch, off Yadav when the teenage opener was 13 in a score of 24.
In between Cook lived dangerously, often flirting with the balls outside the off stump and edging some short of the slips or through the cordon for some runs.
India struck the first blow – and a big one at that – with the first ball after the drinks break when Cook was trapped leg before as he tried to turn the left arm slow bowler to leg.
It looked worth the first instance of DRS call in Tests in India, but Cook had a word with his partner Hameed and walked back after facing 47 balls.
Root and Hameed then batted steadily, with the former showing particularly good use of feet to tackle spin. He also hit two lovely cover-driven fours in successive balls from Ashwin in the off spinner’s seventh over.
But Ashwin extracted his revenge on England two overs later by sending back Hameed with a ball that turned in a bit and got past the defensive shot of the rookie opener who played outside the line to be rapped on back foot.
Decision Review System (DRS) was called for by the visiting team for the first-time on Indian soil and it confirmed the original verdict of the umpire and the batsman departed for 31, inclusive of six fours, after a stay of 98 minutes.
The wicket fell with 18 minutes for lunch break and brought cheers to the home side’s camp. The left-handed Duckett set about attacking Ashwin with two sweeps and another extra cover drive for fours soon after arriving to the crease.
However, in the next over – the final one before lunch – Ashwin got him edging a defensive shot to the right of slip fielder Rahane who atoned for an earlier lapse with a diving catch inches off the turf to give the edge to the hosts.
India went in with five bowlers by including leg-spinner Amit Mishra, as the third spinner, for the first time since the second Test against the West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica.