On opening day, Kuldeep and the openers deflate England.

On the first day of the fifth and final Test match between India and England in Dharamsala on Thursday (March 7), Kuldeep Yadav’s fourth century in Test matches (5-72) along with fifty-seven-year-old Rohit Sharma (52*) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (57) helped India win. In seamer-friendly conditions, England elected to bat and got a strong start to the day’s play thanks to Zak Crawley’s fifty (79). Throughout the first hour, Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah of India’s new-ball team regularly hammered the bat but were unable to find the nick. After a rocky beginning, Ben Duckett showed promise and went on to become the first of Kuldeep’s five victims.

The left-arm wrist spinner didn’t take long to give India their first breakthrough, dismissing Duckett in his opening over after forcing the southpaw to make a mistake. The batter had worries about Kuldeep because of the zip he was pulling off the surface. Although the song wasn’t particularly amazing, the 29-year-old utilised every one of his abilities to throw off England’s batters’ rhythm. Before Ollie Pope’s pathetic attempt to come down the pitch led to Dhruv Jurel’s easiest-ever stumping, the man was put through a maze. A cunning leg break then set up a well-positioned Crawley, who had looked effortless against both pace and spin, to be bowled through the gate.

Ben Stokes was not spared either, as he was alternately given leg breaks and a variety of googlies before the latter got him leg before wicket, trapped to the crease. It took Jonny Bairstow a few overs to realise that he could hit his way out of difficulty, and Kuldeep eventually had the final laugh. His ability to bowl with slight variations in length and tempo, as well as his daring decision to toss the ball up regularly, were what made his performance stand out. During this, Ravindra Jadeja took full advantage of the slide and hold in the pitch to get Joe Root’s crucial wicket.The collapse was so dramatic that England went from 175/3 to 183/8 in just 37 balls, losing six wickets in that time.

Ravichandran Ashwin (4/51) completed the clean-up in his 100th Test match by taking the final four English wickets to fall. The off-spinner did not have the best of starts, but he returned with a bang to make sure Kuldeep’s act was solidified. With the exception of Crawley, none of England’s hitters could bat clearly at the crease. Even Root and Stokes, two of the team’s more experienced hitters, were guilty of having their strategies mixed up. The aggressive display from India’s openers complemented the bowlers’ impressive effort.

Jaiswal continued his incredible performance in the series, becoming just the second Indian after Sunil Gavaskar to surpass 700 runs in these five Test matches. The young left-hander also broke the record for the fastest time to 1000 Test runs for India (based on the number of matches played). At his most fearless, he skillfully dispatched the pacers and spinners. With an over that went for three sixes, Tom Hartley took the brunt of the attack. With a few entertaining punches and pulls, Rohit maintained the momentum on his end as well. Jaiswal’s overly aggressive style eventually resulted in his wicket, but not before he caused a great deal of damage.

Both Shubman Gill and Rohit have started the game well. Rohit has kept making his shots. For the most part of the day, the surface performed admirably, and India’s spinners—Kuldeep in particular—did the most damage. The inexperienced spin attack of England has unable to obtain comparable surface purchase. India will try to knock England out of the match with four full days remaining, but as this series has demonstrated, momentum swings can come swiftly. similar to how it was in today’s afternoon session.

Brief scores: India 135/1 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 57, Rohit Sharma 52*) trail England 218 (Zak Crawley 79; Kuldeep Yadav 5-72, Ravichandran Ashwin 4-51) by 83 runs.

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