Prior to the series, the English media, as well as former cricketers predicted that Alastair Cook’s batting lineup was in for a tumultuous tour of India following an abject showing in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka.
However, the visitors took advantage of a placid surface in Rajkot to register a mammoth total by the end of the first couple of days of the series opener.
Having been accustomed to demolishing opposition teams on turning pitches at home, the Indian spinners were kept on the field for as many as 159.3 overs. Their fielders made matters even worse by dropping several catches at various stages of the innings. But, Ravindra Jadeja played down the concerns regarding the hosts’ catching by attributing those as part and parcel of the game.
During the end of day press conference, Jadeja felt, “In cricket, it has happened, for long, you drop catches over a period of five days. It has happened too that when you drop someone, that batsman has gone on to score a hundred. So, that happened today as well. We got a few chances of (Ben) Stokes – a couple were dropped, a couple didn't go to hand. So, it's a part of the game. At some point (of time), it happens to every team.”
Upon losing a vital toss, India reprieved both openers within the first six overs which enabled England to get off to a reasonable start. Centuries from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Stokes propelled them to a daunting 537. Even though the home side ended the second day at 63/0, they face an unenviable task ahead on a surface which could take turn as the overs trickle by.
Jadeja, who has won many a match for Saurashtra at this venue, believed, “As the game progresses, the wicket should slow down. The foot marks from the two days at both ends should provide some help to spinners. (The) center part of the wicket is the same and we hope it will stay the same. The ball was coming onto the bat yesterday and today, but it will slow down as the game goes on. Tomorrow is crucial and we have to play positive cricket.”
On his hometown, he sent down 30 overs and emerged as the pick of the Indian bowlers in the first innings with figures of 3/86. If his words are anything to go by, then the left-arm spinner could have an even bigger role in the coming days.