Ahmedabad day one: India 323-4

The Test series did not get off to a great start for England. First they lost the toss on a pitch that was expected to break up quite a bit on the last two days and should be hard to bat last on. Then they realised that for the first day the pitch was an utter road. It was slow and low and with utterly nothing in it for the seamers. India finished the first session 120-0 with no clear chances even for England, though not all of that was the pitch. England bowled very poorly in the morning session; when it was clear that they were not going to get anything out of the pitch they tried to bowl too many magic balls instead of just settling into the choking off runs tactic. They were a bit better in the afternoon, they got a few wickets and created real chances, but it was not until the final session that they really worked out how to bowl on the pitch. England conceded 120-0 in the morning, 130-3 in the afternoon and then came back for just 73-1 in the evening.

The ongoing problem for England on the first day was their catching though. It is particularly frustrating as it was not so long ago that they were so good in the field, but they have really fallen off in that area this year. So far the most costly drop looks like it is going to be that of Cheteshwar Pujara. He offered an absolute dolly of a leading edge to James Anderson when on only eight and Anderson dreadfully misjudged the flight of the ball. To be fair to him, it is hard to read a ball hit on a directly to a fielder; one can’t judge if one has to go back or in until the ball almost reaches its apex. It comes up quite a bit with outfielders in baseball, but because it is easier to come in for a ball then go back for it they are taught to go back first if unsure and then come in. Anderson started in though and could not get back as the ball landed right where he had been standing.

That was the most costly drop, but it was not the worst. England could have had Virat Kohli out before they ultimately did when he edged Swann to slip and Jonathan Trott not only put down a sitter, but then rolled over on it and tried to claim the catch. It’s hard to say whether the easy drop was more infuriating than the blatant bit of dishonesty that followed, but taken together they were quite possibly the nadir of the day for England. It was absolutely appalling.

India are clearly well on top after the first day. England did well to drag them back after the first session, but they could not quite make the breakthroughs they needed in the evening to keep it quite close. But they are at least still in the match. England will be thinking that some early wickets today and they could keep India to what might be a below-par total on this pitch. But even below-par on this pitch will still be quite a lot and England will have to bat very well whenever they get the chance.

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