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Bazball gets Indian makeover as Jaiswal, spinners put hosts in strong position on day one

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Hyderabad, Jan 25 (PTI) After spinners put England batters through a harsh scrutiny, Yashasvi Jaiswal rolled out his own version of ‘Bazball’ en route to a crushing fifty as India posted 119 for one to take the upper hand on day one of the opening Test here on Thursday.

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At close, Jaiswal (76 batting, 70 balls, 9x4, 3x6) and Shubman Gill (14 batting) were at the crease and the hosts are 127 runs in arrears of England’s anaemic first innings total of 246, which was built around skipper Ben Stokes’ hardheaded 88-ball 70.

Around Stokes, England batsmen crumbled as the spin troika of Ravichandran Ashwin (3/68), Ravindra Jadeja (3/88) and Axar Patel (2/33) rudely nudged them back to reality of batting on an Indian pitch that offers barrowful of turn and grip even from day one.

But when the Indian openers came out bat the RGI Stadium, pitch appeared to have lost its bite and the England tweakers looked like a defanged lot.

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Jaiswal wrapped himself with the leader’s cape despite the presence of his captain Rohit Sharma (24, 27 balls) at the other end, tearing into England bowlers with gusto.

The gap between runs and balls could give the left-hander’s innings a hue of carelessness but it was anything but that.

Jaiswal started his and the team’s innings with a clipped boundary to square leg off pacer Mark Wood, but that was just the appetizer as the left-hander offered a harsh welcome to Tom Hartley to international cricket.

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The 22-year-old smashed the England left-arm spinner for two sixes in his first over, one over long-on and the other in front of the square.

His twinkling feet and fast hands made it tough for the England spinners to settle into a rhythm against him.

Jaiswal and Rohit added 80 runs in just 12.1 overs to give their side a wonderful launching pad.

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It came to an end when Rohit gave a catch to Stokes off left-arm spinner Jack Leach while trying to clear him over the long-on.

But for the rest of the innings, it was a futile toil for the English bowlers as this could be the beginning of a long and tiring tour for them.

To make it even more exasperating for them, they have already exhausted all the three reviews for this innings as well.

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However, the whole atmosphere was different when the Indian spinners were operating – the ball bounced, turned and gripped to leave the English batters an edgy group except a few small passages.

One of them came in the post-lunch session when Joe Root (29, 60 balls) and Jonny Bairstow (37, 58 balls) added 61 runs for the fourth-wicket as England attempted to stay above the fast-rising water.

Root and Bairstow, generally, relied on sweep and the reverse avatar of that shot occasionally to gather runs. However, Root was culpable of being too premeditative and it eventually led to his downfall.

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Jadeja hit a fuller length which resulted in a top-edge off Root’s bat that flew to short fine leg where Jasprit Bumrah did not have to strain himself much to complete the catch.

Bairstow too did not last long as Axar delivered a peach from wide of the crease to take out the batter’s off-stump.

Ben Foakes has this reputation of being a fine player of spin but on this day only struggle was visible as he departed with a 24-ball four, offering a simple catch to stumper KS Bharat off Axar as England lost five wickets in that session for 107 runs.

It was left to captain Stokes, who employed conventional and non- conventional sweeps to counter spin, to wage a lonely battle in the company of tailenders and even looked solid during his stay in the middle.

But then on dire occasions like the one England encountered here, even a lion-hearted warrior like Stokes could only add a modicum of respectability to the total.

After a sedate beginning, Stokes slipped into his own and played some dazzling shots before Bumrah disturbed his stumps. His innings contained six fours and three sixes.

In the morning session, England might have daydreamed of another buccaneering effort after openers Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley made 25 runs in the first four overs which later swelled to 55 in 11.5 overs.

But Ashwin underlined his mastery over left-handers for a zillionth time while dismissing Duckett.

The 37-year-old managed to skid one on to beat Duckett’s defence to hit his pads as the latter played for non-existent turn.

Umpire Chris Gaffaney did not have to think twice before raising his finger, and even a review could not save Duckett.

The Indian spinners rushed through that creek to dismantle the England innings as India tightened the grip over the proceedings. PTI UNG BS BS

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