Murali Vijay (left) and Cheteshwar Pujara got out to poor shots after getting their half-centuries © Getty Images
By Abhijit Banare
Jul 12, 2014
India ended Day Four on 167 for three with a lead of 128 runs against England in the first Test at Trent Bridge on Saturday. It was a day when records tumbled for the last wicket stand as James Anderson (81) and Joe Root piled on a record 198-run partnership to take England to 496 and take a 39-run lead. India lost two quick wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara (55) and Murali Vijay (52) late in the day but still look comfortable to take this match towards a draw.
The visitors had a tiring first session when Joe Root and James Anderson hammered the pacers all-around. The match was delicately poised after England were bowled out for 496 having posted the record 10th-wicket partnership. The England pacers put up a spirited fightback putting all their efforts in on a dead track but India did well to see out the new ball and progressed smoothly.
Unlike MS Dhoni, Alastair Cook used his bowlers in short spells in the second innings. The wicket had slowed down considerably. But the pacers did well to test the openers. With Shikhar Dhawan being a free-flowing off-side players, they were eager to create chances in the slip cordon. England seemed to rest their hopes on getting the ball to reverse swing like it did early in the first innings. With Cook already under the burden of captaincy and poor form, Ian Bell was busy shining the ball. Anderson and Broad delivered a straighter line compared to the first innings and were a touch more effective.
A few overs in to the innings, both Vijay and Dhawan unleashed their attacking shots. With the pitch slowing down, going for the shots was always a better option than playing a defensive Test game. Just when they were heading in to tea without losing any wickets, Dhawan tried to be more enterprising against the part-time spin of Moeen Ali. Having hit a boundary, he followed it up charging down to a full-toss and gave an easy catch to the bowler.
The post tea session was laced up with graceful drives and flicks from Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara. The two solidly progressed ahead and got to their respective half-centuries in style. This is a wicket where the batsmen have to take efforts to gift their wicket away. Even Vijay couldn’t suppress his ego against Moeen as he charged down the track and missed the ball completely to see himself caught behind and stumped as well. A well-compiled half-century gone in vain looking at the way in which he was dismissed. The match got livelier towards the last half hour as Pujara too used his favourite cut shot to give a catch to Ben Stokes. Ajinkya Rahane and
Earlier in the day, England’s last-wicket pair of Root and Anderson snatched a possible match-winning lead from India. With 105 lead in hand, India were aiming for setting a big target. But the wait got too painful as Anderson was unperturbed even against the short balls while Root smashed to get to his fourth Test. England headed in to lunch unscathed at 485 for nine having shattered many last-wicket records. India finally got their man removing Anderson for 81. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bagged a five-wicket haul in his first overseas Test while Root was undefeated on 154.
Dhoni’s tactics against the last pair could be questioned but there wasn’t much to do on a flat deck like this. In comparison, Cook looked more proactive in the second innings and moved his fielders well. He missed an opportunity to get Vijay early though as he hadn’t deployed any slips. The two late wickets has given England some hope but Kohli and Rahane have batted out solidly to go undefeated at stumps. India would be eager to touch the towards a lead of 200 and feel a bit secure in this match.
India 457 (Murali Vijay 146, MS Dhoni 82, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 58, Mohammed Shami 51*; James Anderson 3 for 123, Stuart Broad 2 for 53) & 167 for 3 (Murali Vijay 52, Cheteshwar Pujara 55; Moeen Ali 2 for 39) lead England 496 (Sam Robson 59, Gary Ballance 71, Joe Root 154*, James Anderson 81; Ishant Sharma 3 for 150, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 5 for 82) by 128 runs.
Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)