Jasprit Bumrah led the way for India as England slumped to 57 for four at lunch on the first day of the fourth Test at Southampton on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Bumrah was a thorn in England’s side with a second-innings haul of five wickets for 85 runs during India’s 203-run win in the third Test at Nottingham that cut the hosts’ lead in the five-match series to 2-1.
And at lunch he had miserly figures of two for 21 in 10 overs, with all of India’s pacemen gaining a degree of swing and especially sharp seam movement off a lightly grassed pitch at south coast county Hampshire’s headquarters.
Ben Stokes was 12 not out and Jos Buttler, dropped on 11, unbeaten on 13.
To make matters worse, England captain Joe Root had decided to bat first after winning the toss on a sunny morning.
Bumrah struck with just his seventh delivery Thursday when, from over the wicket he had the struggling Keaton Jennings lbw for a duck, with the left-hander leaving a ball that cut back into him when he thought it was going the other way.
It was the kind of delivery that many pundits thought Bumrah was incapable of delivering but it completely confounded Jennings and England were one for one in the third over.
Number three batsman Root was reprieved after a Bumrah review for lbw revealed a no-ball.
But fell for just four in any event when lbw, aiming across the line, to Ishant Sharma, Bumrah’s new-ball partner, to leave England 15 for two.
– Simple catch –
Jonny Bairstow had been promoted to bat at number four despite a broken finger suffered at Trent Bridge that means he is unfit to keep wicket, with Buttler set to deputise again behind the stumps as he did at Nottingham.
Bairstow, however, edged Bumrah on six to give India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant a simple catch.
All the while, Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, had watched the collapse from the other end.
But the veteran opener, himself looking to end of a run of low scores, fell for 17 when he carelessly played outside off stump to Hardik Pandya and saw the ensuing edge well caught low down at third slip by India captain Virat Kohli.
England were now 36 for four in the 18th over — the 32nd time in their last 63 Test innings they had been four wickets down with 100 or fewer runs on the scoreboard.
Their position might have been even worse when Buttler saw a Mohammed Shami delivery take the bottom of his bat only for Pant, up too soon, to drop the low chance that came straight to him.
Pant had dropped Buttler early in the batsman’s maiden Test century at Trent Bridge, with England now hoping this latest error would prove equally costly.