Stumps day 1: India – 259/1
Murali Vijay scored an impressive century to help India end on top on day one of the first Test at Trent Bridge. The visitors had clinched the first session scoring 106 runs for the loss of just one wicket. It looked as if it would be England’s session post lunch when they scalped two wickets in space of 10 balls but Vijay and Rahane steadied the ship to make it an even second session. The early loss of Rahane in the final session had India worried but Vijay and skipper Ms Dhoni put on 81 unbeaten runs to make sure India drove home the advantage at the end of day one. India built three fifty plus partnerships which proved to be the key.
We had witnessed Vijay’s determined approach on the South African tour but he wasn’t able to convert starts. Today, he made sure that the shortcomings were overcome here at the Trent Bridge. He played some lovely cover drives, astute dabs and crisp on drives on his way to 122*.
The impressive thing about his innings was that he remained unflustered throughout. Even after a couple of quick wickets fell after lunch, he stood strong and didn’t succumb to the Anderson-Broad swingers.
Morning session (30 overs, 106 runs, 1 wicket)
The first morning of the first Test at Trent Bridge belonged to India as the visitors scored 106 runs for the loss of just one wicket against an ineffective England attack.
Murali Vijay was the star of the session as he reached his fifth Test half-century and went into the break unbeaten on 55.
India captain MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat on a dry and hard surface. Stuart Binny was handed his Test debut, while England preferred Ben Stokes over Chris Jordan.
Vijay began scratchily with a couple of edged boundaries to third man but followed it up with a lovely wristy flick through mid-wicket all in the first over bowled by James Anderson, which leaked 12 runs.
Stuart Broad found little assistance from the pitch at the other end while Anderson had to work hard to extract any movement. Vijay, meanwhile, continued to score through the vacant third man region. His first 20 runs came from 17 balls as Alastair Cook looked to make the most of the new ball.
Shikhar Dhawan was cautious as Vijay kept the scoreboard ticking. England were not getting much out of the wicket, forcing Anderson to go around-the-wicket and the strategy worked immediately as he had Dhawan pushing at one that moved away. Matt Prior behind the stumps plucked a brilliant one-handed catch diving to his left to make Anderson the first bowler to take 50 wickets at Trent Bridge.
Vijay kept growing in confidence and had racked up six boundaries from the first nine overs, five of which came through the third man region. He was also quick to punch the bowlers down the ground whenever they bowled too full.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who joined Vijay at the crease, took his time before getting off the mark by flicking a Broad half-volley through square leg. There was brief moment of worry when Pujara tried to cut one too close to his body but the thick outside edge flew wide between gully and third slip and brought him four runs instead.
Pujara then settled down and was able to score freely as England struggled to find the right line of attack on a flat pitch.
Vijay reached his fifty with back-to-back boundaries off Stokes. The first was a back foot punch through point followed by a crunching cover drive. It took him just 68 balls and contained 11 fours.
Ben Stokes, who came on first change wasn’t effective, with Wasim Akram summing him up by saying “no pace and no movement”. Liam Plunkett didn’t find things any easier at the other end and had to be content bowling into the body from around-the-wicket.
Moeen Ali bowled just two overs in the session and Pujara looked to attack the spinner straightaway, smashing a high full toss within inches off going all the way.
By the end of the session, Vijay and Pujara had added 73 runs in quick time.
Post-lunch session (29 overs, 71 runs, 2 wickets)
At the end of first session, it seemed as if it will be hard work for the bowlers but the English bowlers bounced back hard after lunch scalping two quick wickets. Cook, who has been under fire for his negative captaincy, should receive due credit for his tactics which fetched England the wicket of Pujara.
The skipper placed a silly mid on for Anderson in the second over after the break and the masterplan worked. Anderson bowled a slower one, Pujara pushed at it tentatively and chipped it to silly mid on where Bell dived to his right and pouched a superb one-handed catch.
Broad then scalped the big fish – Virat Kohli – with a beautiful outswinger. Kohli pushed away from the body and got an outside edge to second slip where Bell made no mistake.
Anderson and Broad bowled really well. They hit right lines, lengths and garnered some movement. Broad could have had his second when he induced an outside edge off Rahane but it fell inches short of the second slip fielder.
Vijay and Rahane then played cautiously to make sure that there were no slip-ups. The former had scored just seven runs from 45 balls after lunch but he got into rhythm with a crisp drive off Plunkett through point. He then eased into a couple boundaries off Plunkett and Stokes respectively. The pair looked solid and added 70 unbeaten runs to make sure India recovered well after early shocks.
Post-tea session – (31 overs, 82 runs, 1 wicket)
Vijay and Dhoni made sure that India clinched the final session and had a decent outing on day one as they added 81 unbeaten runs for the fifth wicket. England could manage to scalp just one wicket throughout the session.
Just like the post-lunch session, India started on the back foot after tea as they lost Rahane(32) early after tea. In a bizarre dismissal, Rahane was caught at silly point looking to pull. He was too early into his shot and the ball took the toe end of the bat to silly point where Cook showed good reflexes to hold onto the catch.
Skipper MS Dhoni joined Vijay in the middle and the latter went on to 99 with a effortless punch down the ground. The Tamil Nadu batsman waited patiently before he finally got to his fourth Test century after 12 balls with a risky single to square leg.
He raised his bat to a standing ovation. There here moments when he looked scratchy to start off with but he waited patiently, weathered the storm and once he got his eye in, he played some wonderful strokes. He reached his first fifty in 68 balls and the next in 146. This said a lot about the maturity of his innings.
The skipper, who had indicated before the series that he would be aiming to attack, looked positive from the outset and crashed one through backward point for his first boundary.
He then scored a couple of fours off Anderson, punching one through extra cover and then smartly guiding another to third man.
Vijay had a slight lapse in concentration in the 72nd over when he edged one to first slip looking to drive but it fell excruciatingly short of Cook. He then took an attacking approach against Moeen Ali hitting him for a maximum straight down the ground using his feet. He remained unruffled even after being hit on the arm trying to duck a Plunkett Bouncer as he followed it up with a crunching drive through point a couple of deliveries later.
Dhoni scored at a brisk pace and reached his half-century off just 64 balls, in the final over of the day. The duo negated the effect of the second new ball and added 81 unbeaten runs. The English players looked a tad jaded and with the pitch having nothing to offer, they could be in for a long day tomorrow.