Having sealed the series win after taking an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series, hosts England were the ones who batted first at the Oval after skipper Joe Root won the toss.
In Alastair Cook‘s final Test in the England whites, the hosts were reduced to 198-7 before stumps were drawn on day one.
Here, we look at the key talking points from an eventful first day at the Oval.
KOHLI’S TOSS WOES CONTINUE
If there was one thing Virat Kohli would have hoped to change desperately coming into the final Test, it was his luck with the coin tosses in the series.
With variable conditions playing a big part in the final outcome of Test matches these days, there was plenty riding on the toss once again at the Oval. Luck had deserted the India skipper so far in all four previous coin tosses in the series. Four times Kohli had called heads, four times he had lost the toss.
On Friday, he once again opted to go with the call of heads and saw himself lose his fifth toss in succession. England skipper Joe Root had no hesitation in electing to bat first on a much slower surface while Kohli was left to rue his luck. Such was Kohli’s haplessness that he said: “I need a coin with heads on both sides.”
Maybe next time go for tails, Virat?
You got to feel for Virat Kohli. A tough 5-Test series in England and he loses the toss in all 5— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) September 7, 2018
COOK SURVIVES TREACHEROUS SECOND SESSION TO REGISTER FIFTY
After a circumspect opening session for England which saw them amass 68 runs for the loss of Keaton Jennings’ wicket by lunch, India’s bowlers had their task cut out in the second session.
With the side in desperate need of a breakthrough post lunch, the Indian pacers came out firing on all cylinders. Mohammed Shami came agonisingly close to finding Alastair Cook’s outside edge on three occasions in an over before Jasprit Bumrah finally got one to connect off the bat and fly towards the slips. Unfortunately for the India pacer, Ajinkya Rahane grassed a straightforward chance to allow Cook a reprieve while batting on 37.
At the other end, Moeen Ali too was living dangerously with Kohli putting down a tough chance in the slips.
The two Englishmen survived a testing period before Cook went on to notch up his 57th half-century. It was a poetic touch to the batsman’s farewell given he had marked his Test debut innings with a fifty too against the same opposition.
INDIA’S PACERS COME ALIVE AFTER TEA
After a frantic second session where they were extremely unlucky to end up without a wicket, India finally found the much needed breakthrough early into the final session. Cook’s penultimate innings was brought to an end by Bumrah ultimately after the Indian pacer got the Englishman to play on to his stumps. Three deliveries later, it was England skipper Root making the long walk back to the pavilion after being trapped on the pads by an inswinging Bumrah delivery.
Root’s optimistic review proved to be futile as Jonny Bairstow made his way to the crease to join Ali. While his wish to reclaim the wicketkeeping gloves might have been granted, there was no change in Bairstow’s fortunes as he fell for another duck while attempting to drive at a wide Ishant Sharma delivery. Bairstow’s dismissal was his third duck in four innings and the fifth time he had been dismissed in the last 22 balls he has faced in the series.
That wasn’t the end of the England procession with Ben Stokes, Ali and Sam Curran falling soon after as the hosts went from 133-1 to 181-7. Ishant Sharma (3-28) and Bumrah (2-41) were the protagonists of India’s fightback with the ball.
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