England struggle on opening day

NAGPUR – India made a strong start in their quest to level the four-match series after reducing England to 199-5 at stumps on day one in Nagpur today.

In what can best be described as a turgid opening day’s Test cricket, England’s batsmen struggled to adapt to a slow, low pitch at the VCA Stadium, with only Kevin Pietersen (73) reaching a half-century.

Kevin Pietersen shone for England.

Pietersen’s contribution helped England recover from 16-2 after Alastair Cook, fresh from winning his first toss as captain, and opening partner Nick Compton had fallen early to Ishant Sharma (2-32).

Pietersen and Jonathan Trott shared an 86-run partnership for the third wicket to put the tourists back on track, however the former failed to kick on and join Cook on 23 Test centuries when he clipped debutant Ravindra Jadeja (2-34) to Piyush Chawla at midwicket shortly after tea.

Jadeja had accounted for Trott (44) earlier in the afternoon, while Warwickshire team-mate Ian Bell (1) fell cheaply to Piyush Chawla, but England debutant Joe Root and Matt Prior shared an unbroken 60-run partnership in the evening session to lift spirits heading into day two.

Root, selected at No.6 in place of Samit Patel in one of two changes made by England – Tim Bresnan also replacing the injured Steven Finn, reached the close unbeaten on 31, with Prior (34 not out) playing a useful hand alongside him.

Having won the toss for first time in the series at the start of the day, England captain Cook opted to bat first – however it was a decision he may have been regretting when he became the second wicket to fall inside 11 overs.

Out for three

Somerset batsman Compton managed just three before he was back in the pavilion, with the opener edging a short delivery from Ishant (2-25) through to MS Dhoni.

Ishant also removed Cook, although in controversial circumstances. Cook (1) was struck on the pads outside off stump by a delivery that was angling away, however umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger – and with no DRS in play, there was little the England captain could do.

Trott and Pietersen safely negotiated the rest of the morning session and calmly set about rebuilding the innings. (Sky)

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