“Stay calm, we’ve played some good cricket in this series,” Joe Root said at the toss assuring the fans and probably his team-mates. Well, he certainly had all the reasons to stay calm as his main batsman Jonny Bairstow was fully fit, Sam Curran was back in the playing XI and he had just won a crucial toss on a perfect, nice and what Sanjay Manjrekar termed as a ‘flawless’ wicket.
From here on everything looked set for the home team. Bat first, take advantage of the surface and score big. Then with the pressure of runs on the board push India back and conquer the fourth- innings by bowling on a worn wicket with four seamers and two spinners in the arsenal.
But it took just 13 balls for this plan to come crashing down. Jasprit Bumrah found Keaton Jennings padding up a delivery that was destined to strike the middle stump. Jennings’ bizarre response to that delivery was astonishing but everyone was mesmerized by the swing Bumrah produced that too while bringing the ball in to a left-hander.
Things turned worse from bad as Joe Root himself was pinned in front of wickets by Ishant Sharma in the eight over. Bumrah was not done yet and he delivered another stunner to kiss Jonny Bairstow’s outside edge. Alastair Cook who is due for a big knock was at home during the first hour and blunted the new ball. But just when it looked as if this is Cook’s day he committed suicide. A nothing delivery was sent to Kohli at third slip as Cook went back wondering what made him play such an awful shot.
Approximately 100 minutes later Root asked everyone to stay calm, England were in no position to stay calm. They had just registered their worst ever start against India after winning the toss. In 1971, England lost their top four batsmen for 41 runs at Manchester and before today it was their worst start but today their first four wickets contributed only 36 runs thus breaking the 47-year-old record.
Infact this is the only second time in history that England’s top order failed to score 50 runs against India after winning the toss.