Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli shared a stand of 90 © IANS (File Photo)
Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli shared a stand of 90 © IANS (File Photo)

Virat Kohli (68) and Murali Vijay (53) emerged as the two gainers after two sessions India’s only tour match before the start of the five-Test series in Birmingham next week, their 90-run stand for the fourth wicket resurrecting a poor start to set the basis for a comeback against Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday.

FOLLOW LIVE: India vs Essex, Day 1 

Kohli and Vijay had united at the fall of Ajinkya Rahane for 17, at which point India were 44/4 in 18.3 overs. Kohli began in a hurry, hitting four boundaries in his first 18 balls faced, and followed the more resolute Vijay to a half-century once the afternoon session began.

Kohli got his eye in and played in an assured manner during his knock of 68 runs off 93 balls, which contained 12 boundaries. He got out to the medium pace of young left-armer Paul Walter. However, Kohli would take confidence from his first innings in long format on the England tour, where his strike rate touched 73.11. Considering that there has been a lot of criticism for his poor average of 13.6 over 5 tests on the last tour of England in 2014, this innings of 68 against Essex could be a good omen for the upcoming Test series against England.

On the other hand, Vijay’s application at the crease was in keeping with his reputation as a batsman of pedigree in England (he scored 402 runs in five Tests in 2014), and that watchful approach helped India gain ground after their openers fell cheaply.  He also got out bowled to the left-arm medium pace of Walter.

The near double strike meant that India were 147/5 mid-way through the post lunch session. The good work done through the Kohli-Vijay stand of 90 now stood a chance of getting floundered. But at this stage, in-form KL Rahul joined forces with the comeback man Dinesh Karthik to steady the Indian ship somewhat. They have added 54 runs till tea with Rahul on 37* and Karthik on 19*.

When Kohli won the toss and chose to bat, he would have hoped that the top order got going against Essex’s bowling in humid conditions, but the result was far from satisfactory. Shikhar Dhawan, his place in India’s XI for the Edgbaston Test far from secure, was out first ball to Matt Coles, edging behind to the veteran wicketkeeper James Foster. In his second over, Coles had another when Cheteshwar Pujara (1) also edged to Foster. That left India sweating at 5/2.

Rahane’s 47-ball 17 eased the nerves somewhat, and it was through him that the first boundary of the innings came in the tenth over. However, a start was not converted into something substantial. Matthew Quinn, Coles’ new-ball partner, found Rahane’s edge to present Foster a third catch.