India vs England - Third Test, Day One: Bairstow fights but regular wickets give India control

England's batsmen made strong starts but a combination of good bowling and poor shots have ensured India will feel in control at stumps.

India vs England - Third Test, Day One: Bairstow fights but regular wickets give India control
Bairstow's 10th half-century in 2016 gave England a foothold in the match | Photo: cricinfo

On a very dry pitch in Mohali, Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to bat first. But after the lost four wickets before the team had even amassed a hundred runs, they were struggling.

Strong partnerships between Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes steadied the ship. The quartet guiding England from 87-4 to 268-8 at the close of play. It could have been a much worse day for England though, India spared the visiting team's blushes as they put four chances down in the field.

Bairstow gives England hope

The wicket-keeper batsman kept the gloves despite the recall of Jos Buttler, but today it was his turn to shine with the bat in hand. Despite regular wickets falling all around him, the Yorkshireman stood firm and trusted his technique as he put the Indian attack to the sword. Simply defending the good deliveries and punishing the bad, he kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Bairstow's shot placement was exemplary during his stay in the middle | Photo: cricinfo
Bairstow's shot placement was exemplary during his stay in the middle | Photo: cricinfo

Bairstow's first big partnership came when he was joined at the crease by Ben Stokes, the dynamic all-rounder scored just 29 runs but it was the double act that made the difference. Whilst Stokes' innings on its own wasn't special, he batted perfectly in tandem with Bairstow. The pair's attacking but watchful style was well judged and the pair guided England out of trouble with a well needed 57 run partnership.

As Stokes departed Bairstow was the joined in the middle by fellow wicket-keeper Jos Buttler. Having been chosen to replace the struggling Ben Duckett despite his lack of recent red ball cricket the Lancashire player will have been keen to impress. And impress he did. Despite his lack of game time he looked perfectly comfortable at the crease, playing his range of shots well. He took the initiative, letting Bairstow occupy the non-strikers end. The explosive batsman fell short of his half century, falling for 43, his and Bairstow's partnership the biggest of the game so far, it was worth 69 runs.

Bairstow was the given some able lower order support from Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire all-rounder always looked capable and their partnership was worth 45 before Bairstow's innings was finally ended, he was unable to reach his century. He was trapped LBW by Jayant Yadav for a very well constructed 89.

Wasteful England gift India control

Despite three impressive partnerships, it could have been a much better day for England if it wasn't for some extremely poor shot selection from England's top order. Whilst many were wasteful, Haseeb Hammed was not. The teenager was watchful and looked impressive again, until he got a very good delivery that jumped off the pitch and caught the shoulder of the bat and flew into the slip's hands. Hameed fell without reaching double figures, scoring just nine runs. His opening partner, Cook, got a good start but couldn't convert it. The England captain had looked in good touch until he pointessly chased at a short and wide delivery from Ashwin but could only get an edge and Parthiv Patel took a good catch behind the stumps.

Cook's wasteful cut was a rare loss of concentration from the captain | Photo: cricinfo
Cook's wasteful cut was a rare loss of concentration from the captain | Photo: cricinfo

Joe Root may have been faultless recently for England but today wasn't one of those days. The Yorkshireman tried a horrible pull across the line to a ball that was never really short enough and he was trapped plumb in front by Yadav. Moeen Ali was the next to go, having been moved up to number 4, the spinning all-rounder was met with a barrage of short balls and despite the obvious trap set in the field, Ali went for the attacking option but could just top edge the pull shot to the waiting fine leg. Ali departed for just 16 runs.

Stokes had batted well but suffered from a rush of blood, he charged down the wicket trying to take the attack to Ravindra Jadeja. He never got to the pitch of the ball however, he missed the ambitious straight drive and was easily stumped. Buttler batted even better but was another victim of the rush of blood. Jadeja give the ball some flight and Buttler went after it, his hot was a miscue however and Virat Kohli took a very smart catch running round from cover.

Far removed from the poor shot selection that went before them, Bairstow and Woakes both fell to good deliveries. Bairstow had edged the preview delivery but it was put down by the wicket-keeper. He then played straighter to try and negate the risk of an edge and whilst it worked to stop the edge, it opened up his pads and Yadav got a delivery to straighten and trap Bairstow agonisingly short of his century. For Woakes it was trial by pace. Having looked in control, he was then ruffled by a good spell from Umesh Yadav, the paceman finally got his man a full delivery skidded of the pitch and hurried through Woakes' defenses tor remove him for 25 runs.