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13 February, 2021

3 Major Ways Team India Benefited On Day One Of Second Test



India's Hitman, Rohit Sharma, delivered on Saturday by scoring more than half of Team India's Day 1 total of 300 for 6.

However, his 161, his career 7th Test ton, was equally dominated by an umpiring decision over his stumping, Ajinkya Rahane's dismissal and captain Virat Kohli standing his ground for verification after being bowled by Moeen Ali.

There was more drama during the closing hour of play when India's explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant got into a verbal duel with England's fielders.

These developments brought out the fact that both teams are desperate for a win and would grab any advantage that came their way.

Here are 3 major benefits that helped Team India get to a position of relative strength on Day 1: 

1. Winning the toss, choosing to bat: This was the moment India were waiting for. 

They wanted the luck of the toss to drop on their side and bat first. As hosts, they have got a pitch made that'll suit them and help them draw 1-all in this 4-Test series.

They seemed to have lost this desired advantage when they lost their two most sought after scalps, Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli. 

However, Rohit and Rahane, two long time Mumbai Ranji team colleagues formed an association of 162 runs in a team total of 300 for 6.

Experts are saying this total is for India to be happy about on a pitch that's turning from the first day, is holding back and puffing dust as the deliveries hit the turf. 

Kohli's men are now looking to add another 60 runs or bat even longer. For this, they are relying on the explosive Rishabh Pant and debutant Axar Patel, who has a first class century and 13 50s to his name. 

The premise of both teams in this series is to win the toss, bat first and pile up a huge first innings total that'll pressure the opposition into submission.

India, after winning the toss on Saturday and putting up 300 are in some way eyeing this Test as owned. 

2. Gill's early dismissal helps Rohit: Shubman Gill's sure-footed approach to batting is seen as a blessing for India.

However, his early dismissal owing to an unexpected wrong-footed stance seemed to have benefited Rohit.

The Hitman found Pujara initially and Rahane later as his allies with whom he could consult and seek honest feedback on the manner he was facing up to England's bowlers. He wouldn't have been able to do this with rookie Gill at the other end.

Pujara and Rahane are likely to have even calmed Rohit down for him to avoid any impulsive strokes that he is now known for early in his innings.

Apart from the 85-run partnership with Pujara and the 182 with Rahane, Rohit also received support for the first time by close to 15,000 fans who were allowed in-person viewing of the Test match. 

According to Rohit, a big boost to his performance was batting with a clear mind. 

He also said that pre-match sessions on how best to use your feet and sweeping the ball helped him immensely. It's not clear if Kohli, Gill and Rahane were part of the group that trained Rohit.

3. England's struggle with Stokes and Moeen: England's decision to include Stuart Broad, Ollie Stone and Moeen Ali in place of Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer and Dom Bess saw them struggle on several occasions during the first day. 

Although Moeen Ali produced a peach of a delivery to send back Kohli, his overall bowling turned expensive for his team.

This was exacerbated by the fact that Broad ended wicketless and Ben Stokes bowled only two overs on the day.

Skipper Root stepped in to compensate for the lack of bite in the English attack with his offbreak-legbreak. He succeeded marginally, claiming Ravichandran Ashwin's wicket and stemming the flow of runs from his eight overs.

Experts watching the match and few former players now commentating are not sure which and whose way this match will go. This, because they haven't seen England bat.

Root may carry forward his determined batting. If he finds strong support from Dom Sibley, others and get close to India's first innings total, the hosts will rue the opportunities they lost.

If England lose this Test, the controversies that raked up their heads on Day One and others that may erupt during the remaining four days of play are likely to be taken up with the highest cricket body.

Three controversies that dominated Day One:

1. Kohli's reluctance to accept his shock dismissal: 

Former England batsman Mark Butcher's remark from the commentator's box was picked up by publications in the United Kingdom on how Kohli reminded him of W G Grace.

His quote was picked up and flashed across the digital platforms. The Mirror's headline screamed Virat Kohli refuses to leave the field even after he is clean bowled by Moeen Ali. The DailyMail quoted a fan quote that said 'He looks bamboozled' while the BBC simply headlined Virat Kohli refuses to walk after being bowled by Moeen Ali.

The India skipper's fans may empathize with their star player saying he had every right to verify the dismissal before exiting.
However, the dismissal came so unexpectedly that it left Kohli in disbelief. His reluctance to walk respecting the England fielders and the umpire's judgement is likely to be talked about for long.

2. Appeal over Rahane's wicket: England had used their review to assess a caught at short leg decision against Rahane in the 73rd over.

While the TV umpire Anil Chaudhary was in the process of reviewing, on the field skipper Root was doing his best using gestures that the review should include a onward trajectory of the ball that hit Rahane's pad then caressed his glove and into the hands of short leg fielder Ollie Pope.

The TV umpire instead reviewed the initial trajectory of the ball from the bowler's hand onto the pitch and Rahane's pad, then switched to reviewing an LBW decision.

Rahane unlike his repertoire, played all across in the next over and was bowled. It was, in L Sivaramkrishnan's words in the commentary box, as if Rahane had a guilt trip over the previous over's reprieve and played that rash shot.

Few overs later, confirmation trickled in that the umpires had offered England to retain their review.

This prompted reactions from former, current players watching in Australia, England and India. Michael Vaughan and Glen Maxwell were among those who reacted sharply.

Commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted: "The appeal for a catch against Rahane, before he got out, was quite poorly handled. Should have checked snicko on the way up.  By allowing England to retain the review, have they admitted they were wrong?"

3. Debate over Rohit's stumping: The DailyMail wrote: "England needed something to break the partnership and Ben Foakes, replacing the rested Jos Buttler, came desperately close to a genius stumping of Sharma. His effort was waved away with unusual haste by Chaudhary...''

Former England batsman Nick Knight commentating during this incident, seemed convinced from replays that Rohit was out saying the batsman did not have half foot within the crease at the time of stumping as stated by the cricket law.

This incident and those involving Kohli and Rahane does not bode well for India's stature on fair play especially the Match Referee is also from India, former India pacer Javagal Srinath.

There's solace that umpiring during the first Test was lauded by all to be fair and excellent.

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