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Fourth LV= Insurance Test (day one of five), India 191: Thakur 56, Kohli 50; Woakes 4-55; Robinson 3-38 England 53-3 England trailing by 138 runs Scorecard
England's Joe Root was a key wicket in a dramatic exit from the fourth Test. The match was balanced at the Kia Oval by India, who lost Root.
Umesh Yadav bowled Root for 21 to make it 53-3 for the hosts, after India had been bowled out for 191.
England chose to bowl on winning toss. Chris Woakes took 4-55 in his first Test for more than a decade, and Ollie Robinson continued his great start to international cricket with 3-38.
India ended up at 127-7 despite Virat Kohli's 50 runs. Shardul Thakur crashed a 31-ball century, which was the fastest Test cricket in England.
India lost their final three wickets in four balls and then England was reduced to 6-2 by Rory Burns who fell for five runs, followed by Haseeb Hameed, who fell for zero, both to Jasprit Bumrah.
Root and Dawid Malan appeared to have weathered storms, but Umesh cut the bails to send Captain Root on his 21-day journey.
Nightwatchman Craig Overton was left to watch England until the end, along with Malan (who is unbeaten at 26).
A chaotic day mirrors a series of fluctuating series
This was a series that fluctuated, whose nature was reflected in a chaotic, sometimes bizarre, opening day.
India ignored the 413 Test wickets by Ravichandran Ashwin, and promoted Ravindra Jadeja as number five in the batting order.
England struggled through India's batting but still lost four wickets and were flayed in the end by Thakur.
India was at risk in the last hour when Burns remained on his stumps while Hameed snipped a cut in the same area.
Root, as always, was a reassuring presence. The 46 he added to Malan seemed to be in complete control of England.
Umesh, however, ran a nip backer between the pad and bat of the captain, which gave India an opportunity to exploit Friday morning.
Woakes' dependable return
Woakes was England's player-of-the-year in 2020. However, Woakes went over 12 months without playing Tests due to injury, rest and being forced into isolation.
He returned in the place of Sam Curran, even though he had not practiced much. He had four wickets and two dropped catches. A decision against Ajinkya Rahane was also overturned.
Woakes scored with his sixth delivery. He found extra bounce to help Rohit Sharma's edge. Jadeja punched to the first slip, and Rishabh Pan carelessly slapped to the mid-off before Woakes stopped Thakur's assault by earning an Lbw on review.
There were times when England weren't at their best. Robinson and James Anderson were both expensive, but they were still able to torment vulnerable India with their batting.
England lost control only when Thakur started to run, but his downfall was enough for England to lose the last three wickets for just one run.
Thakur was outrun by Woakes. After Overton had dropped Umesh and Bumrah was left behind, Jonny Bairstow caught a fine catch to keep Mohammed Siraj at bay and give Robinson his third wicket.
Thakur reverses momentum
The rest of India's top orders were unable to repel the England attack in favorable conditions. However, captain Kohli batted with class and control.
He was a stomping machine, and he survived being dropped by Root off Woakes at 22.
However, Kohli's decision to make Robinson the face of the bat, confirming that the wait for a Test 100, which began in November 2019, will continue. Pant and Ajinkya Rahane will follow soon.
Thakur, Ashwin's preferred choice, can defiantly reverse this momentum through some wild swiping, and clean hitting.
Overton was lifted over long-off six times, Woakes was hacked to cow corner for the same fate, and Robinson was crucified over deep square leg.
Thakur was dropped by Bairstow after he went for a Robinson short ball on 43. He then went on to record the second-fastest half century by an India cricketer in Test cricket. In just 6.4 overs, he reached his fifty-run stand with Umesh.
Although Thakur's departure was the end of India’s innings, the Indian team carried the fight into their bowling and claimed the three wickets that left the match in balance.
They said, "The game is in the balance"
Chris Woakes, England all-rounder: "I would have snapped your hands off to get 4-55 at the beginning of the day."
"Fair play Shardul, he got after us and played some great shots - but to bowl out a team for 190 on the first day is a really impressive effort."
Michael Vaughan, former England captain: "It has been a good day for bowling but it's been poor for the craftmanship in Test match batting.
"You can't say to me that someone should not be receiving a high score on this pitch, given the talent from these two sides. I try to make them excuses, but they won't listen.
"At tea, I thought India were out of the Test match. They won the last session with Thakur's innings, and those three wickets. The game is in balance.