When trying to assess the state of play after the first day’s play, it’s often tempting to imagine a parallel world where the toss-winning captain has opted for heads instead of tails, tails instead of heads, or just totally gone off on one and gone for arms or thoraxes or some other body part not commonly associated with a coin.
Had that happened in this match, most people would reckon that India would most likely be more for fewer. We conclude from this that it was “India’s day.”
It’s worth pointing out at this point that India have a very good attack. Not so many years ago, England might have been facing one seamer, one makeweight seamer and two spinners. Virat Kohli’s India field two excellent seamers and three spinners.
That is quite a difference. There is no drifty afternoon lull. There is no part-time dob.
That is perhaps why so many of the batsmen’s contributions – from Chris Woakes’ 25 to Jonny Bairstow’s 89 – fitted somewhere on the good-effort-but-probably-not-of-any-enormous-consequence-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things scale. Amid talk of whether Jos Buttler would prove to be a success or a failure, his effort was neither, falling pretty much bang in the middle of this range.
If there’s one thing that might encourage the mandatory taking of positives in English quarters, it’s that India managed to get some reverse swing. England are unlikely to outspin or outbat their opponents, so this represents as good an area as any in which to gain an advantage.
That said, India found some reverse swing in the first Test and England pretty much didn’t. There’s a chance that the toss might be the only thing England win in Mohali.