When England named Jack Leach, Rehan Ahmed, and Tom Hartley as the three spinners for the Hyderabad Test, it was met with a lot of applause. Going with an aggressive approach to outdo India in India was the only way to make some space for themselves, but if the indications from the opening day were anything to go by, England were already looking at a long Indian winter.
“It's spinning quite a lot on day one,” Ben Duckett said at the end of the day’s play in Hyderabad.
England had a rather positive start to their day when the duo of Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett took on Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah with sheer disdain in order to maximize the offering. In 11 overs, England had already crossed the 50-run mark, showing early signs of the Bazball approach that made them such a dominant force in Test cricket lately.
However, once the Indian spinners came into the attack, the focus shifted dramatically - and from 55/0, England were reduced to 60/3. There were some bursts in between - like that of Ben Stokes’ valiant 70-run knock but India ended up with the advantage.
“We could have easily had three or four [wickets] there tonight and it could have been very different. The way they played at the top was quite positive, and that's fair play to them. I don't think we necessarily thought they were going to come out and play like that, but Stokesy got us to what we think was an above-par score,” Duckett said.
At Stumps, India were on 119/1 - trailing by 127 runs in the first innings with nine wickets in hand. However, the English opener doesn’t want to give it away entirely, knowing that they still hold a pretty good chance in the match.
“It was quite a good day. I thought we were pretty happy there, getting bowled out for what we were. I thought Stokesy was superb. We found it pretty tricky and I think, to be honest, they played well and really positively tonight. It's tough work against that attack, and I thought we grafted really well today. When the ball is spinning like that on day one, it can be quite tough.
"It feels like a tricky pitch to start on. Shubman there, we could have had him there. It looked like a dead lbw and somehow, it's bouncing over the stumps. It's one of those things. We'll stick to our mantra and that's taking wickets and looking to be positive. Hopefully, that will happen for us as well."
Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was playing his first-ever Test in India, was in his elements and ended the day with 76 runs off 70 balls - that virtually put India in the ascendancy. Duckett feels that they need to pick some early wickets on Day 2 to turn the game around in their favour.
"I think Jaiswal played beautifully. These are home conditions [for India] and you'd expect nothing less of their lads than to play well out here. Even the wicket to get Rohit, they were looking quite set with those two and then that happened. Fingers crossed, if moments like that happen tomorrow, we can stick three or four [wickets] on them and you never know. If we can keep them to around our score, or even a little bit of a lead, I think we're right in the game,” the English opener concluded.