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07-Mar-2024 11:44:00 GMT
Ind v Eng - 5th Test, Dharamsala

Kuldeep Yadav rips through England in Final Test

India 135 for 1 (Jaiswal 57, Rohit 52*) trail England 218 (Crawley 79, Kuldeep 5-72, Ashwin 4-51) by 83 runs

Dharamsala: England's hopes of salvaging a final victory from their tour of India are already in grave danger after an awful batting collapse on day one of the fifth Test in Dharamsala.

The tourists were spun out for 218, losing their last eight wickets for 81 runs and at one stage a calamitous 5-8 in 37 deliveries.

Opener Zak Crawley made an attractive 79, surviving the exaggerated movement found by the India new-ball bowlers in the mountain air after England won the toss.

Crawley's dismissal, bowled by a sharp turner from the magical Kuldeep Yadav, preceded the real carnage. Jonny Bairstow, playing his 100th Test, Joe Root and Ben Stokes were all dismissed in the space of 13 balls for no addition to the score.

On a good batting surface, albeit one offering turn, all 10 England wickets fell to spin.

Left-armer Kuldeep bewitched England for 5-72, while Ravichandran Ashwin marked his own 100th Test with 4-51.

Any suggestion of a swift England fightback with the ball was snuffed out by an opening stand of 104 between Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rohit Sharma.

Jaiswal was stumped off Shoaib Bashir for 57, but Rohit remained on 52 not out, guiding his team to 135-1, only 83 behind.

England may feel this Test could have been a decider, and captain Stokes is insistent his team have made progress despite the 3-1 scoreline.

A final result of 3-2 would be creditable and support the skipper's assertion, but instead the tourists are heading for a 4-1 defeat and a battle to justify any talk of progression.

The setting could not be more picturesque. The snow-capped mountains, brightly coloured seats and stands of Dharamsala hint at a cricketing Disneyland.

Rather than take inspiration from their surroundings or a meeting with the Dalai Lama on Wednesday, England put on an end-of-tour showing lacking in steel.

This is a match of milestones. Bairstow was emotional as his family joined him in the England huddle before play, while Ashwin was given a guard of honour as India took the field.

James Anderson is two short of 700 Test wickets. Ultimately, the most important number is England's 218 - their lowest first-innings total since September 2022.

Some of the batters were reckless, others simply undone by the skilful Indian spinners. Three of Kuldeep's wickets came from England not being able to pick his googly.

Off-spinner Bashir at least recovered from illness to take his place in the XI, only to be hit for three sixes in his first over by Jaiswal.

Ollie Robinson is still ill, leaving England with 13 fit players and resulting in assistant coaches Marcus Trescothick, 48, and Paul Collingwood, 47, named as fielding substitutes. England might have been better calling on them to bat too.

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