England's progress dented by late Root dismissal

03 September 2021 05:46:55 GMTPlus11
Chris Woakes looked sharp on his return to the side

Chris Woakes believes the fourth Test against India is firmly in the balance after England's progress on the opening day was dented by the late dismissal of captain Joe Root, as they closed on 53-3, a deficit of 138 runs.

The hosts are priced at 1501.00 to take a 2-1 lead in the series by winning at The Oval, after a thrilling first day that saw the wickets flow.

Toss proves the key

Fresh from their emphatic victory in last week's third Test at Headingley, England won the toss and elected to bowl first. It proved a shrewd decision, as their seamers set about disrupting India's batting line-up, with Ollie Robinson (3-38) and the returning Woakes (4-55) particularly catching the eye.

India lost three wickets apiece during the opening two sessions, including that of captain Virat Kohli (50), who was dismissed off the bowling of Robinson just after reaching his half-century.

To bowl out a team for 190 is job done. To lose three tonight keeps it in the balance.

Chris Woakes

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When India then slumped to 127-7 just after tea, the writing looked to be on the wall, but a quickfire 57 from Shardul Thakur proved timely, as they were eventually all out for 191.

In response, England lost openers Rory Burns (5) and Haseeb Hameed (0) early and both off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah, but the hosts then appeared to be steadying the ship with captain Root and Dawid Malan at the crease.

Test in the balance

However, the dismissal of the captain late in the day for 21 off the bowling of Umesh Yadav could well prove pivotal, and Woakes, who had enjoyed plenty of success with the ball, believes the game could go either way.

"A relatively good one still. To bowl out a team for 190 is job done. To lose three tonight keeps it in the balance," the 32-year-old, who was making his first Test appearance in over a year, told Sky Sports when reflecting on the day's play.

Nightwatchman Craig Overton (1no) will start day two at the crease alongside Malan (26no), as England will look to chase down and go beyond India's first innings total.

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