4-3-2-1. Such numbers usually represent the formation of a football team. But on the first day of the Test at Trent Bridge, these numbers represented how Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj forced England into submission. There was an even contest between bat and ball in the first two sessions but the visitors knocked England out in the final session under gloomy skies and now have a great opportunity to take command of the opening Test. The hosts collapsed from 138/3 to 160/9 before eventually being bundled out for 183 in 65.4 overs.
Virat Kohli and Co. left out R Ashwin from the playing XI and went with Ravindra Jadeja, who only had to bowl three overs. There was enough assistance for the fast bowlers and India's pace quartet made the most of it. Bumrah (4/46) and Shami (3/28) took seven wickets between them, while Thakur claimed two in an over. Things could have gone worse for England if not for their captain Joe Root (108-ball 64) and Sam Curran (37-ball 27*). In reply, Rohit Sharma (9*) and KL Rahul (9*) did well to see off the remaining 13 overs. India were 21 for no loss, still trailing by 162 runs when the stumps were drawn on day one.
ENGLAND'S TOP-ORDER WOES CONTINUE
England have had a fragile top-order for quite some time now and they once again failed to make an impact today. Amongst all the Test-playing nations, England's top-three batters have the worst average (20.5 in 17 innings) in 2021 and India had little trouble getting rid of Rory Burns (nought), Dominic Sibley (18) and Zak Crawley (27). It was Bumrah who got India off to an outstanding start by dismissing in-form Burns in the very first over. There was some pressure on the ace paceman after a disappointing outing in the WTC final but Bumrah stamped his authority straightaway on day one of the big series.
The set-up was perfect though. Bumrah started his spell with four balls angling away from Burns and then got one to come back in from the middle stump. The left-handed opener lost his balance and ended up getting pinned right in front of the stumps. Sibley and Crawley managed to stick around for a while and put on 42 runs for the second wicket, with the latter doing the majority of the scoring. Crawley played a couple of exquisite drives, but just when he was starting to look dangerous, Siraj sent him back to the hut in an eventful 21st over.
On the third delivery of the same over, Indian captain Virat Kohli and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant wasted a review on Crawley but their luck turned around a couple of balls later. Siraj once again got one to come back in from the good length and Crawley poked at it for no reason. There was a faint edge before the ball hit the pad and went into the gloves of Pant, but the umpire wasn't convinced. Pant somehow managed to convince Kohli to refer this to the third umpire and the result came in India's favour. Meanwhile, Sibley batted for over two hours before falling right into Shami's trap. The visitors kept a short mid-wicket and Sibley flicked it straight into the hands of the fielder, just the luck Shami needed.
SHAMI FINDS SOME "LUCK"
The right-arm paceman induced the highest number of false shots - 272 - when India toured England in 2018 but could only manage 16 wickets at an average of almost 40. In fact, prior to this year's WTC final, Shami had an average of 47 in England. The 30-year-old took four wickets in the final and was India's most impressive bowler. On the first day, Shami bowled with great control in his first spell but had to wait for 50 deliveries to get his first wicket. There might have been some luck involved in Sibley's dismissal but his next victim - Jonny Bairstow - was simply undone by his brilliance.
Bairstow looked far from his best at the start but kept building a partnership with skipper Root. The 31-year-old started to find some rhythm after crafting Siraj for consecutive boundaries. There was an eye-pleasing cover drive, followed by a gentle on-drive. The two had added 72 runs for the fourth wicket before Shami was brought back for his third spell, just before the end of the second session. And, the fast bowler from Bengal delivered once again, getting Bairstow lbw for 29 at the stroke of tea. Thakur and Bumrah wreaked havoc in the final session but it was Shami who drew first blood straight after tea. Dan Lawrence (nought) got one down the leg side, thinking it was a boundary-hitting opportunity, but ended up nicking it to the wicketkeeper. Maybe this was the luck Shami and India needed.
ROOT STANDS TALL
Yes, Root once again failed to convert his fifty into a hundred. Yes, since the beginning of 2018, Root averages only 32.79 at home, a far cry from his home average of 59.46 in 35 matches before that. Yes, Root doesn't have great numbers while playing on the front foot in England. But, Root is still England's best batsman and that clearly reflected in the way he went about his business today. As expected, the Indian bowlers didn't bowl too short to Root but the 30-year-old still batted with a lot of control, scoring 45 of his 64 runs on the front foot. In the process, Root also became the highest run-getter across formats for England, going past Alastair Cook’s tally of 15,737 runs.
Root walked into bat in the 21st over and announced his arrival by hitting Siraj for three consecutive boundaries. There were those trademark dabs through third man, gorgeous covers drives and authoritative pull shots, as Root brought up his 50th Test fifty off 89 balls. This was the sixth time in as many series Root managed a 50-plus score in the first innings of the series against India. Playing square of the wicket to counter swing with control, the right-hander only scored one run down the ground. But before he could do any further damage, Thakur smashed his front pad right in front of the stumps with a superb nip-backer and gave India the wicket they needed the most.
LOOK WHO'S BACK
Bumrah had a point to prove after struggling to make any impact in the WTC final. The ace paceman went wicketless in his 36.4 overs against New Zealand was criticised for bowling too short. The 27-year-old operated at an average of 19.2 from 2018 to 2019 but that number has gone up to 35 since 2020. On top of that, Bumrah was averaging 71.7 against left-handers in this time period but the way he set up Burns, was a clear indication that Bumrah meant business today. The seamer from Gujarat was slightly more fuller than he was in the WTC final and also didn't shy away from bowling yorkers every now and then.
Bumrah induced the highest false shots (31.4%) amongst all the Indian bowlers on day one and also 32.2% of his deliveries were hitting the stumps. Jos Buttler (nought) looked clueless against Bumrah who kept moving the ball both ways and didn't allow the wicketkeeper-batsman to open his account. Buttler was caught behind, while Stuart Broad (4) and Anderson (1) succumbed to two ferocious yorkers. It was only fitting that it was Bumrah who drew first and last blood on what was day one the second edition of the World Test Championship.