Outstanding spells from Stuart Broad and James Anderson allowed England to boss day one of the fourth Test, says Andrew Strauss.
Broad bagged 6-25 – including 4-6 in 21 balls while Anderson returned 3-46 as the tourists were shot out for just 152 after opting to bat, skipper MS Dhoni (71) one of only players to score double figures.
India were 8-4 at one stage with three of their top four batsmen out for nought and went on to equal the record of six ducks in a Test innings before England posted 113-3 in reply, 39 runs behind at the close of play.
“India will think that they’ve just held on at the back end of the day but ultimately it was England’s day,” reflected former England captain Strauss. “They started off brilliantly, taking four wickets early, and then they bossed the day from then on.
“It was an outstanding performance from England’s opening bowlers. They probably weren’t supported by the back-up bowlers Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan as well as they would have liked but I’m splitting hairs – it was an excellent day for England.
“The onus was on England’s two senior bowlers to perform; they haven’t done it all the time this summer but today they were outstanding first up.”
England lost opener Sam Robson for six when he was bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar offering no stroke and then captain Alastair Cook fell after making a solid 17 off 42, miscuing an attempted pull of Varun Aaron (2-26).
Gary Ballance (37) and Ian Bell (45no) – who both made hundreds in England’s series-levelling victory at the Ageas Bowl last week – looked largely untroubled in a 77-run stand for the third wicket until the former fell lbw to Aaron just before the close.
“It was a very good delivery from Varun, who was very impressive,” explained Strauss. “He got some good heat going and that around the wicket angle sometimes makes it difficult for a left-hander to know where your off-stump is.
“Ballance was just beaten a little bit for pace if anything. It was a shame for England because he’d looked excellent – Ballance and Bell looked in no trouble whatsoever.
“MS Dhoni would have been scratching his head thinking ‘how am I going to take another wicket on here’. So that’s given India some hope, but they are a long way behind the game already.”
Cook enjoyed a welcome return to form at Southampton last week, striking two fifties in the Test, and again appeared in good nick until he was undone by the short ball.
Reflecting on his former opening partner’s contribution, Strauss said: “I thought he lined it up beautifully; he looked in really good touch. He’s obviously feeling much more positive and confident about his game.
“The surprise was that he got out to a short ball, which he never does. I can think of one occasion at Adelaide when he got out to Mitchell Johnson in that way but usually he is so good at getting over the delivery.
“I think, again, he was just surprised for pace by Varun Aaron. The delivery was 89mph – quicker than Cook expected.”
Watch day two of the fourth Test between England and India on Sky Sports 2 from 10am on Friday.