A solid batting display by Murali Vijay took India to 177 for three against England at tea on day one of the first Test in Nottingham on Wednesday.
At Trent Bridge, the visitors fought their way into the match after losing Cheteshwar Pujara (38) and Virat Kohli (1) early in the afternoon session. Vijay was nearing his fourth Test hundred on 92 off 176 balls while Ajinkya Rahane held the other end on 32 off 77.
India had started the session at 106/1 (30 overs) with Vijay (55 batting) and Pujara at the crease. They had put on 73 runs for the second wicket in the morning session as the English bowlers had found the going tough on a placid wicket.
But the story changed as the players took the field after lunch, with James Anderson (2-50) and Stuart Broad (1-19) suddenly finding reverse swing.
Pujara was the first to go, in the second over after lunch, as the delivery from Anderson jagged in and took off with Ian Bell at a straight, silly mid-on completing a stunning one-handed catch diving to his right. India’s number three batsman departed without adding to his tally.
It became a massive double blow when Kohli was out in the very next over. Broad got him with one that left him minutely and took the bat’s edge falling straight to Bell at second slip. Suddenly India were tottering at 107/3 and with just six batsmen playing, things didn’t really look cosy.
Rahane walked in next and spent some tense moments at the crease. At the other end, Vijay stayed put as the two batsmen played out this tough spell and bided their time to see out the strike bowlers. As a result, the scoring rate suffered with only 18 runs coming from the 14 overs bowled in the first hour after lunch.
But it didn’t matter much as the fall of wickets was controlled. Then with Anderson and Broad going off the attack, Vijay-Rahane started plucking runs off other bowlers. Liam Plunkett (0-41), Ben Stokes (0-37) and Moeen Ali (0-28) made little impression as the batsmen brought up their 50-run partnership in the 54th over.
In the morning session, India won the toss and elected to bat first. Vijay opened the innings with Shikhar Dhawan (12 runs, 24 balls) as they looked to make full use of the handsome batting conditions. It was a change in roles for the two batsmen, as Vijay was the one off to a flier with a flurry of boundaries while Dhawan played carefully and looked to make a solid start.
Dhawan was out caught driving to Anderson who went round the wicket and changed the angle, with keeper Matt Prior completing a brilliant catch. It was the 50th Test wicket for the bowler at Trent Bridge, outlining his super record at this ground even though he struggled on the day.
After that there was no respite for the English attack as Vijay was joined in by Pujara at the crease, and the two played solid and watchful cricket. The runs started flowing as the field began to spread. The 50-run mark came up for India in the 13th over just before one hour’s play was completed.
Vijay then brought up his fifth Test fifty, off 68 balls with 11 fours, in the 24th over and two overs later, the 100-run mark came up for India.
Earlier, India handed a Test debut to all-rounder Stuart Binny, choosing to play five bowlers, and dropping Rohit Sharma to make way for him. The Karnataka player follows in his father — former cricketer and also current selector — Roger Binny’s footsteps and the duo became the tenth father-son pair to represent the country in Tests. England too made one change to their eleven from the loss to Sri Lanka at Headingley, bringing in fit-again all-rounder Ben Stokes in place of Chris Jordan.