Rajkot [India], Nov. 9 : India's batting coach Sanjay Bangar on Wednesday said the catches, which the Indian slip cordon dropped in the first session on Day One of the first Test against England, prevented the team to have an early crackdown at the middle-order of the visiting team.
England skipper Alastair Cook was dropped on zero off the third ball of the very first over of the series opener by Ajinkya Rahane at gully off Mohammed Shami.
Virat Kohli also dropped Cook in the next over. To make it worse for India, Murali Vijay dropped a sitter at first slip off Umesh Yadav, reprieving the 19-year-old debutant Haseeb Hameed, who otherwise looked like a solid old-fashioned opener who didn't mind the new fashion of cutting in the air when the ball was short.
"In the first session of day one of a Test match there's always something in the wicket. Whether you bat or bowl first, you need to make the first session count. It sends a right message across. There were unfortunately a couple of dropped catches which did not allow us to make those early dents into their bating line-up.
They have been losing their top orders and openers pretty quickly in the couple of Test matches they have played.
So, I think that set us back a bit," Bangar told the media. "It's still day one and had we taken those catches, we could have taken six wickets and conceded 25 fewer runs, you never know," he added.
However, the errors did not cost India too many runs as both Cook (21) and Hameed (31) were dismissed before lunch.
England's batting mainstay Joe Root then came up with a classy innings of 124 and stitched a 179-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Moeen Ali, who remained unbeaten on 99 at stumps on Day One.
In fact, Ali too was being let off soon after reaching his half-century by Cheteshwar Pujara off Ravichandran Ashwin with England in a healthy-looking position at 311 for four at stumps on the first day.
However, Bangar felt that the English batsmen applied themselves well and made full use of the conditions on offer.
"But at lunch I feel we still managed to pick up three wickets. We would still have taken that at the start of the session. But full credit to them; they applied themselves, made full use of the conditions on offer in Rajkot on Day One.
It was a Day One wicket. Rajkot is known to be a batsman's paradise. They are quality players and they applied themselves well," he said. "We could have definitely started well in that first session. Had we taken those catches we would probably have been asking questions to their middle-order," he added.
The 44-year-old, however, remained optimistic and said the game can change very quickly on the second day, provided the hosts pick up some early wickets on Thursday.
"The game changes quickly. They are four down at the moment. A couple of quick wickets (on Thursday) and we could make early inroads, wrap them up before a session and half," Bangar said.
Excellent batting by Root and Ali helped England to score 311/4 at stumps on Day One. For India, Ashwin ended the day with two wickets while Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with a wicket each.
Ali and Ben Stokes (19) will now resume England's innings when they come to bat on Thursday morning..