Joe Root, Moeen Ali Give England Chance to Stabilize

November 10 13:07 2016

moeenNew Delhi, Thursday, November 10 – At Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Wednesday, England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat first. His decision implied that objective was to keep England on a strong side by accumulating a lot of runs. If the motto is achieved then it may be a tad easy to put the Men in  Blue under stress.

Indian team for 1st Test consists of Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Amit Mishra. Those to sit on bench are Ishant Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Karun Nair and Hardik Pandya. On the other hand, England  squad has Joe Root, Haseeb Hameed, Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Zafar Ansari, Adil Rashid and Stuart Broad. Those to sit on bench are Jake Ball, Gareth Batty, Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler and Steven Finn.

Expectations were high from the Playing XI the moment opening pair of England arrived on the crease. On Day 1 till stumps, England scored 311 runs for the loss of four wickets. A good start was given by Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed. India looked forward to breaking the partnership, which was growing after each over. And suddenly the job was done by Jadeja on the first ball of the 16th over. Cook struck two boundaries in his innings of 21 runs off 47 balls. The next man on the pitch was Joe Root, who played a wonderful innings that helped England get strong. Ashwin then dismissed Haseeb Hameed at a score of 31, which consisted of six boundaries.

Ben Duckett seemed in hurry while pocketing the runs as he sent the ball into the fences for three times. It was a good catch by Rahane in Ashwin’s over that showed Duckett a way back to the dressing room post pocketing 13 runs. fourth wicket partnership between Root and Moeen Ali gave England the kind of stability that was required to gain grip in the contest. The partnership of 179 runs between these two player made the opposition feel the heat. At the same time, they felt comfort in gathering runs in speed. The partnership was broken when Umesh Yadav caught and bowled Root when he already scored 124 runs facing 180 balls, with the help of 11 4s and a six.

Moeen Ali will resume his play at a score of 99 off 192 balls. So far, he has struck nine boundaries. Ben Stokes will start batting at 19 runs off 41 balls, together with two 4s and a six. Bairstow, Woakes, Zafar Ansari, Adil Rashid and Broad are yet to bat. The play of 93 overs was completed yesterday. England are expected to perform well on Thursday as well, bearing in mind the kind of play they presented a day ago. If a few partnerships are developed today too and India do not succeed to produce the opportunity then it may be a bit simple for the visitors to think of logging victory on the team that is eyeing to retain number one spot in the Test ranking. As of play on Day 1, there is no threat of defeat on any squad so far but things change rapidly in the game of cricket for the reason that a delivery, a six, a four, a single or two or a wicket can change the entire game.

Expectations will be high from Indian bowlers and fielder. Kohli’s decision at different time intervals will be imperative too. Taking into account several challenges the Test format can put forward, focus will be on getting remaining six wickets as early as possible and not let the England middle-order and tail-ender batsmen score much runs. It would be tough to stop Ali from pocketing a ton. A delivery in perfect line and length can do the job. But since the longest format allows players take their time and face a number of balls to get considerable runs, it seems that Ali may be able to add another feather in his cap.

Being one of cricketers who can shine in difficult times, he can let the hosting country bear the brunt and strive for wickets if players on the other end bat strong as well. With a batting average of 33.60 in the Test matches, Ali must be confident of starting well when play resumes today in a short while. Kohli went with five bowler strategy yesterday, employing Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra on the job. It will be interesting to notice whether any other bowler is asked to bowl for a few overs or not. As of now, bowlers would want to outstandingly capitalize opportunities that are meant to benefit the entire team. With only a few minutes time left for the match to begin, both sides are hoping for a good start.

Leading capability of Kohli will be watched as this is the time when any room to the opponents could cost them the match given that England are potential enough to pull off in all sort of situations. Seeing the current score on the board, they are heading for good total. If wickets aren’t lost on this track soon then troubles may increase for the India squad. England are hoping to do well in the series that can help them get better as a team. Beating India in home conditions is no child’s play. All they need to do is to stay on track and keep moving ahead confidently. A new day is likely to hide new surprises. Wicket will change and may give Indian bowlers to mark a comeback, ending stint of the England players and their first innings. The ground wasn’t crowded a day ago since Wednesday being a working day.

The figures of fans in the stadium is probable to increase towards the weekend as many are probable to catch the action live. If India reach at a strong stage and the match enters into a nail-biting level then interest of the viewers will increase as well. Amazing contribution from the bowlers at the present help them collapse England batting order. Indian batsmen would be seeing to do well too when they come to bat. Hopes are certainly soaring from the openers. Early dismissals can change everything. This is the reason why focus of the Indian camp is to not repeat mistakes made previously at any stage. A fresh start on a new day of the match can shift pressure on England team. Priority of England will be to stay careful in the match as today’s game is crucial in several regards. If they let Indian bowlers fail to put stress on them, they may compel opponents to take a back seat in the contest.

If truth be told then Cook’s camp gets success to keep on hitting the shots at different time intervals, burden on the shoulders of opposite party will increase automatically. More than 500 runs will be of immense use. Cricket fans wait for the match to start and see how things turn today. If Cook carries on guiding his men in a way that their potential can be exploited in the best possible manner, England may gain foothold as the match progresses. Since the match is to start in a little while, all India can think at this point of time is to get wickets in the early hours and finish England batting in first session. Right combination of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders can be strengths of both sides. Climate conditions are a mix of hot and cold conditions in Rajkot. Sunshine during the midday, along with humidity, may bother both India and England.