England v India: Visitors hit back after Alastair Cook show and other takeaways

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Alastair Cook fell for 71 in his penultimate Test innings.

The series might have been decided already yet the opening day of the final Test between England and India was not short of action and excitement.

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?

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.

Cook braved through a testing period to register a half-century.

Cook braved through a testing period to register a half-century.

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.

England collapsed in a heap following Cook's dismissal.

England collapsed in a heap following Cook’s dismissal.

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Pakistan appoint Grant Bradburn as new fielding coach

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The former Scotland has signed a three-year deal with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s long hunt for a fielding coach has come to an end with Grant Bradburn appointed to the position on Thursday.

The New Zealander resigned from his position as the head coach of Scotland to take up the three-year stint in the Pakistan setup.

The 52-year-old’s resignation brought an end to his four-year stint with the Scotland men’s team which saw them qualify for the World Twenty20 in India during 2016 while also achieving a historic win in an ODI against England at Edinburgh this year.

He will take over from Steve Rixon and will start his tenure with the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE.

“It is a great honour to be joining Pakistan cricket team and their high-quality coaching staff. I have seen the progress that has been made under Mickey Arthur and the opportunity to work with a leading full member team on the rise in world cricket, is a real privilege,” Bradburn said on his appointment.

Bradburn's Scotland famously upset England in an ODI this year.

Bradburn’s Scotland famously upset England in an ODI this year.

“Against Scotland in June, we saw the impressive changes that have been instilled, noticeably with the physical stature and fielding abilities of Pakistan’s players. I look forward to adding my experience to the players and staff, while being an integral part of the exciting and dominant team, Team Pakistan is becoming,” he added.

Earlier, Australia’s Darren Berry had been in negotiations with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the fielding coach role but he pulled out citing personal and professional commitments.

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Ricky Ponting's Australia coaching plans take a hit after Achilles injury

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Ponting injured himself while shooting a commercial.

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has sustained an Achilles injury which has raised doubts over his coaching role with the national team.

Ponting had assisted head coach Justin Langer in his maiden assignment when Australia toured England for five ODIs and a T20 earlier this year. He was reportedly in talks with Cricket Australia to continue as assistant coach during the upcoming tour of the UAE where they will take on Pakistan.

Ponting is now set to miss the T20 leg of the UAE tour due to the injury he sustained while kicking a football during a commercial shoot. According to a report by ESPN, Ponting’s injury is set to affect his mobility for the next three to six months after he underwent surgery for the tear last week.

Ponting had assisted Langer during Australia's tour of England.

Ponting had assisted Langer during Australia’s tour of England.

Despite his injury setback, the former skipper is expected to remain in negotiations for future coaching stints with the Australian team.

The Australian team is set to take on Pakistan in two Tests followed by three T20s in their tour of the UAE with the first Test getting underway on October 7.

The two Tests will be the first time Australia will take the field in the format since their infamous tour of South Africa in March this year which was rocked by the ball-tampering saga.

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