Un­likely Hero

Keaton Jen­nings marks first day in Tests with ton...

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Stocks

IF ENG­LAND take any­thing away from this fourth Test it is the fact they have un­cov­ered another fine bat­ting tal­ent in Keaton Jen­nings.

Alas­tair Cook’s side could still win this match and head into the fi­nal Test at Chennai next week 2-1 down, and with hope of draw­ing what has been a gru­elling winter se­ries.

But Eng­land, 288-5 at the end of day one, did not en­tirely con­vince, un­like Jen­nings who could not have made a more em­phatic state­ment on de­but, and dur­ing his first day as a Test player.

The Durham opener was Cook’s 11th open­ing part­ner in the four years since Andrew Strauss re­tired as cap­tain.

How­ever, even the 24-year-old ad­mit­ted match­ing Strauss’ achieve­ment of scor­ing a cen­tury in his first Test in­nings was be­yond his own ex­pec­ta­tions.

The im­pu­dent re­verse sweep for four by Jen­nings that brought up his land­mark off Jayant Ya­dav shortly be­fore tea told of the con­fi­dence and poise he felt in his first match at this level.

No­body – not even Jen­nings him­self – knew if he could trans­late the form that had seen him score 1,548 County Cham­pi­onship runs at an av­er­age of 64.50 for Durham last sum­mer onto the big­gest stage of all.

Yet af­ter a nervy start that saw him dropped on nought at gully and sur­vive an In­dian re­view for lbw on 10, he grew into his new sur­round­ings.

By lunch, with Eng­land 117-1, the Jo­han­nes­burg-born bats­man had reached 65.

By tea he had be­come the first Eng­land player since Jonathan Trott at The Oval in 2009 to score a de­but hun­dred. Trott, another prod­uct of the South African sys­tem, went on to be­come Eng­land’s rock at num­ber three dur­ing the four years that fol­lowed that su­perb knock in south Lon­don.

Jen­nings could do the same given Hameed, whose bro­ken fin­ger cut short his own de­but tour here, looks cer­tain to come back into the team next sum­mer fol­low­ing his own fine start to his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer in the first three matches of this se­ries.

Eng­land have not re­placed Trott at three since his re­tire­ment last year. Joe Root, who made a dis­ap­point­ing 21 yes­ter­day, av­er­ages 51.66 since mov­ing to that po­si­tion last sum­mer.

Yet his form has tailed off this winter and given Eng­land have used four bats­men at four since the York­shire­man’s pro­mo­tion for the Pak­istan se­ries in July, maybe mov­ing Root back to his old place in the or­der would solve two prob­lems come next sum­mer?

Re­gard­less, the pos­i­tive start by Jen­nings has put Eng­land in the rare po­si­tion of now hav­ing a sur­feit of de­cent top-or­der bats­men. Still, the frail­ties that have been ex­posed dur­ing this se­ries by In­dia were still ev­i­dent on the first day of this match and it says much that other than Jen­nings only Moeen Ali went on to make a half-cen­tury.

Even then Moeen threw away his wicket just two balls af­ter get­ting to 50, top-edg­ing an at­tempted sweep to Ash­win to mid­wicket.

Two balls later Ash­win did for Jen­nings as well, the opener

prod­ding ten­ta­tively to gully on 112.

Ash­win would also re­move Jonny Bairstow, sweep­ing hard to deep back­ward square leg, soon af­ter to re­duce Eng­land to 249-5 and the wob­ble was then on.

Thank­fully Ben Stokes, who sur­vived an lbw re­view of his own to Ravin­dra Jadeja on 23 late in the day, and Jos Buttler, stead­ied the ship be­fore the close and en­sured there was no de­bil­i­tat­ing first-in­nings col­lapse to match those that sealed Eng­land’s fate dur­ing the de­feats in Visakha­p­at­nam and Mo­hali in the pre­vi­ous two Tests.

Cook and Root had gone in the first two ses­sions here, Eng­land’s cap­tain in­ex­pli­ca­bly stumped off Jadeja 17 min­utes be­fore lunch and Root edg­ing Ash­win to Vi­rat Kohli, who took a fine re­flex catch at slip.

The af­ter­noon also saw some added drama as um­pire Paul Reiffel was taken off the field af­ter be­ing hit by an er­rant throw from Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar in the 49th over of Eng­land’s in­nings.

Reiffel, re­placed on the field by third um­pire Marais Eras­mus, went to hospi­tal for a scan. Thank­fully he was passed fit and was ex­pected to stand again on day two of this match as The Cricket Pa­per went to press.

When Eng­land do bowl, they will be with­out the ser­vices of Stu­art Broad, who failed to re­cover from the ten­don in­jury in his right foot, and was re­placed by Not­ting­hamshire team-mate Jake Ball.

Break­through: In­dia cel­e­brate the first wicket of the day, that of Alas­tair Cook

Worry: Um­pire Paul Reiffel is helped by sup­port staff

In­dia Eng­land 288-5 - Stumps, Day One

On his way: Jen­nings cuts the ball away on his way to a de­but cen­tury

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