India peg England back after Jennings’ ton on debut (Intro Roundup)

Mumbai, Dec 8 (IANS) Debutant Keaton Jennings cracked a superb century but India fought back to restrict England to 288/5 to end the first day’s action of the fourth cricket Test on even keel here on Thursday.

Jennings (112), the eighth English opener and the 69th batsman in th world in Test cricket’s history to hit a century on debut, propelled the visitors to a strong position at 196/2 by tea.

South Africa-born Jennings was called up to the squad last week. He was dropped when he was yet to open his account in the debut Test and then capitalised on the “life” given to him.

But India’s premier spinner Ravinchandran Ashwin (4/69) orchestrated a turnaround in the final session of the day to peg back England.

Jos Butler (18 not out) and Ben Stokes (unbeaten 25) were at the crease at stumps.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (1/60) took the only other wicket to fall at the Wankhede Stadium here.

Jennings’ fine effort was complemented by Moeen Ali (50). England skipper Alastair Cook contributed 46.

England were looking to end the day stronger after Jennings put them in a good position.

But Ashwin’s guile checked England’s march. He took two wickets in the 71st over, to dismiss Moeen Ali and Jennings. Ali was caught trying to slog-sweep Ashwin for six.

Ashwin exploited the slow turn that the pitch offered and took advantage of the English batsmen’s tentativeness while negotiating probing spin bowling.

The twin blows jolted England who were by then looking for a first-day score of over 300.

Ashwin made further inroads sending back Jonny Bairstow, caught in the deep, at 14.

That stymied England’s run accumulation to an extent, but Stokes and Butler prevented further damage with an unconquered 39-run sixth-wicket partnesrhip.

The morning, however, didn’t show any such concerns for the visitors. After electing to bat first, they reached 117/1 at lunch. Number 3 batsman Joe Root (21) departed in the post-lunch phase, caught by India skipper Virat Kohli off Ashwin’s bowling.

Cook’s decision to take first strike seemed vindicated when he and Jennings put together a strong partnership.

England put on 99 runs for the opening wicket with skipper Alastair Cook the only batsman dismissed at 46 before lunch when he was stumped by Parthiv Patel off the bowling of left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

The visitors scored at a brisk rate of nearly four runs an over till Cook was foxed by Jadeja to come out of his crease and was sharply stumped by Patel in the 26th over. They were cautious yet firm to put away bad deliveries without hesitation.

Jennings continued to impress even after the departure of Cook, hitting 13 crisp boundaries.

The left-hander showed no signs of nerves while playing his first Test innings on a true pitch that offered consistent pace, bounce and not enough spin, making it easier for the batsmen to hit through the line.

Cook became the sixth batsman to score 2,000 or more Test runs against India during his innings, when he reached 19.

Cook is the first England batsman to achieve the feat against India, and joined the elite list of Ricky Ponting, Clive Lloyd, Javed Miandad, Shivanarine Chanderpaul and Michael Clarke.

In an on-field incident, Umpire Paul Reiffel was hospitalised for a scan after a throw from the deep from India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit him on the back of his head in the afternoon session.

The Australian was rushed to hospital for a precautionary scan and rested for the remainder of the day with third umpire Marais Erasmus taking his on-field position.