India take early control of fifth Test as England batters capitulate again

Tourists are skittled out for 218 as home side reach 135-1 at stumps on Day 1 in final match of series in Dharamsala

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India took a firm grip on the fifth and final Test match after dominating England on Day 1 at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on Thursday.

After winning the toss and deciding to bat, England started well before suffering what has become an all-too familiar collapse in a series where India have already secured an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Ben Stokes' side looked set for a decent first-innings total before capitulating from 175-3 to 218 all out as India's spinners once again wreaked havoc, with Kuldeep Yadav (5-72) and Ravichandran Ashwin (4-51) taking nine wickets between them. The tourists lost their last eight wickets for 81 runs and at one stage fell to a disastrous 5-8 in 37 deliveries.

Only opener Zak Crawley (79) reached his half-century while Joe Root (26), Jonny Bairstow (29) and Ben Stokes (nought) were all out in a 12-ball spell without a single run being added.

Any hopes that England might fight back with the ball were blown away by Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal who blazed their way to a century partnership with runs coming at more than five an over.

Jaiswal was eventually stumped off Shoaib Bashir for 57, but captain Rohit remained unbeaten on 52 at the close alongside Shubman Gill (22 not out) with India just 83 behind England with nine first innings wickets left.

“Yeah, a challenging day,” said England batting coach Marcus Trescothick on TNT Sports. “We had some good moments – we batted well up until lunch when the ball was swinging around and nipped around more than we expected it to.

“Zak Crawley batted very well to get his score but we just didn't get enough partnerships together in the middle, to put the total on the board. Winning the toss was important for us, but it is what it is – we've got to come back better tomorrow.”

Earlier, Stokes' decision to bat first on a belter of a track was on the expected lines and England got off to a strong start with Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett combining in an opening stand of 64.

India's pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah troubled both batters with the moving ball but a breakthrough eluded the hosts until Kuldeep was pressed into the attack.

The left-arm wrist-spinner struck in his first over when Gill pulled off a spectacular catch to dismiss Duckett for 27 via a leading edge.

Crawley brought up his fifty but Ollie Pope (11) departed on the stroke of lunch. The England vice captain could not read Kuldeep's googly and was so far down the track that wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel had all the time in the world to stump him.

Kuldeep dismissed Crawley with a flighted delivery that landed outside the off-stump, sneaked through the bat-pad gap and pegged back the leg-stump.

“He has played really well in this series and he is a good player of spin,” said Kuldeep. “To get him out, you need to produce some magic on the field and that was a beautiful ball and I really loved it.”

Jonny Bairstow, playing his 100th test, hit Kuldeep for a couple of sixes but fell to the spinner after a quick-fire 29 off 18 balls.

Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Joe Root lbw and Kuldeep dealt a body blow by dismissing Stokes for a duck.

Ashwin, who took 4-51 in his 100th test, then ran through the England tail. The off-spinner removed Tom Hartley (six) and Mark Wood (nought) in the same over and returned to bowl another two-wicket over to get rid of Ben Foakes (24) and James Anderson (nought).

Updated: March 07, 2024, 12:22 PM