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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Jul 17, 2014
On a day when the seamers dominated proceedings, Ajinkya Rahane was the shining start with a combative ton that took India from a precarious position to one that gives them something to bowl at in tough conditions. Rahane came in when India were reduced to 86 for three. From there, he fashioned a recovery that took India to 275, by the time he was out. For England, James Anderson was the man who did well. Though marred by controversies, he became the leading wicket-taker on English soil and at Lord’s during the innings.
With India finishing on 290 for nine, England may feel they should have dismissed them a lot earlier. On a pitch with a lot of grass, England were expected to roll over India when they chose to bowl first. Though India started well, England hit back in the afternoon session with four scalps and when they got Stuart Binny just after tea, it was supposed to be a matter of time.
But, Rahane showed remarkable calm and weathered the storm with wickets falling at the other end. Bhuvneshwar Kumar too started off from where he left at Trent Bridge. Their 90-run partnership helped India recover from a muddle and past 200, a score that looked improbable at one stage. Though the playing conditions eased out towards the end of the day, it was still a tough surface to bat on.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan early, but Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara batted with admirable grit. England bowlers were bowling too short for the surface and could have done well to pitch it up. Vijay was dismissed for a gritty 24 and Pujara continued. After lunch, England hit back as they were now pitching it up. Virat Kohli was dismissed for 25. Ben Stokes got through Pujara with a beauty. MS Dhoni edged one to the wicketkeeper.
However, the highlight was the final session for India when Rahane took control. Some of the shorts he played were brilliant. He was ready ti pull the ball when it was short. As he neared his ton, he continued to hit it over the top. This positive intent was heartening to see. A shot he played down the ground went all the way for a six and that showed all his class and timing.
With other batsmen struggling, Rahane reaching his ton in 152 balls is a remarkable achievement. He fell soon after his ton as he lobbed a ball back to Anderson, who took it in his follow through. Though the score may not be very good, it gives India a chance on this surface. It is certainly much better than what one thought it would be when they were 145 for seven.
India 290 for 9 (Ajinkya Rahane 103, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 36; James Anderson 4 for 55, Stuart Broad 2 for 79) vs England.
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