Cricket

Rahane’s classy century livens up the day

India's Ajinkya Rahane, right, celebrates scoring a century alongside batting partner Mohammed Shami during the first day of the second test match between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

India's Ajinkya Rahane, right, celebrates scoring a century alongside batting partner Mohammed Shami during the first day of the second test match between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)   | Photo Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Niggardly England pacers thrive in favourable conditions to prise out the top order

No one among India’s top-five batsmen had ever played a Test at Lord’s. When opportunity dawned, only Ajinkya Rahane prospered.



A majority of the others departed after twenties while Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, whose names are on the honours board thanks to centuries here, watched from the commentary box. By the time Thursday waned, they had company as Rahane joined them for posterity.



The Mumbaikar’s classy century (103, 154b, 15x4, 1x6), his second in Tests, revived a tattered Indian first innings. After the 96 at Durban and the 118 at Wellington, Rahane’s latest milestone is another indication of his growing stature.



The England fast bowlers found an ally in the pitch, and pushed India on to the backfoot in the second Test’s opening day before Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar frustrated the host through a 90-run eighth-wicket partnership.



At close, India had scored 290 for nine.



Rahane never got bogged down, and was quick to cut and drive when the host attack strayed.



He reached his 50 with a flourish, a slap-shot against Liam Plunkett’s short-pitched delivery. He drilled another one towards sweeper-cover while Plunkett offered width.



The bouncer was met with a quicksilver pull.



Once the new ball was taken, he straight drove James Anderson. Stuart Broad eventually scythed through Bhuvneshwar’s stumps but Rahane and Mohammed Shami hurtled on and the former needed an exact 50 deliveries to race from 50 to a well-deserved hundred.



Rahane’s six off Anderson drew a gasp and an immediate applause from the crowd.



Later, Anderson’s reflex-catch on his follow-through ended Rahane’s knock.



In an afternoon session spread over 28 overs, 67 runs were scored but four wickets were lost.



The agony spilled into the last session when Stuart Binny was harshly adjudged leg-before to one that climbed high.



In the afternoon, India lost its key trio of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and M.S. Dhoni.



Ravindra Jadeja, caught in a legal crossfire with Anderson, too fell, trapped by Moeen Ali.



The England fast bowlers pitched it up and thrived on the conditions. It wasn’t a method they mastered in the morning but they made amends.



A pitch that stayed green and an overcast morning goaded Alastair Cook to field on winning the toss. Both teams remained unchanged but with the surface having some life, fortunes were bound to alter. It did for the England fast bowlers, though till lunch, their radars were erratic. They still made twin incisions.



If there was angst in Anderson about the alleged ICC code of conduct violation, he kept it under wraps.



He commenced with a maiden and remained stingy.



Proceedings were hardly tepid, though, as Shikhar Dhawan edged Broad for four and Matt Prior dropped M. Vijay on zero.



There was no such luck for Dhawan when the opener fenced at Anderson. The ball pitched on leg, seamed sharply across to the off aided by the famous Lord’s slope and found Gary Ballance at third slip.



Vijay and Pujara then added 37 runs. Vijay’s fours alternated between edges and cover-drives, Pujara defended and flicked and just as India breathed easy, a wicket fell.



Trying to force Liam Plunkett towards mid-wicket, Vijay (24) only managed a leading edge.



Kohli walked in, clipped three fours and was dropped by Prior off Ali.



Meanwhile Pujara stretched his tenure. India’s batting cogs however perished after lunch.



Anderson bowled closer to the stumps, Kohli erred and Prior held on. After 10 overs, Ben Stokes crashed through Pujara’s defence.



Soon Broad scalped Dhoni and strengthened England’s position until Rahane showed that this match can gain other textures too.

Scoreboard



India – 1st innings: Murali Vijay c Ballance b Plunkett 24 (67b, 4x4), Shikhar Dhawan c Ballance b Anderson 7 (11b, 1x4), Cheteshwar Pujara b Stokes 28 (117b, 4x4), Virat Kohli c Prior b Anderson 25 (34b, 4x4), Ajinkya Rahane c & b Anderson 103 (154b, 15x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni c Prior b Broad 1 (17b), Ravindra Jadeja lbw b Ali 3 (11b), Stuart Binny lbw b Anderson 9 (19b, 1x4), Bhuvneshwar Kumar b Broad 36 (84b, 7x4), Mohammed Shami (batting) 14 (16b, 2x4), Ishant Sharma (batting) 12 (11b, 2x4) ; Extras (b-17, lb-10, nb-1): 28; Total (for nine wkts., in 90 overs): 290.



Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Dhawan), 2-48 (Vijay), 3-86 (Kohli), 4-113 (Pujara), 5-123 (Dhoni), 6-128 (Jadeja), 7-145 (Binny), 8-235 (Bhuvneshwar), 9-275 (Rahane).



England bowling: James Anderson 22-7-55-4, Stuart Broad 22-5-79-2, Liam Plunkett 15-5-51-1, Ben Stokes 17-5-40-1, Moeen Ali 14-2-38-1.

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