KL-RAHUL-REPORT

Even though the match was destined for a draw, rain in the final session of India’s only practice match against Essex ahead of the England series, brought it to an early end on Day 3 at the County Ground. KL Rahul continued to flourish scoring an unbeaten 36 with the help of seven fours while Ajinkya Rahane too got into his groove with three fours in his 19 not out. When the rain forced the players back to their dressing rooms, India were 89/2, having stretched their first innings lead to 125 runs.

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However, Essex tasted early success after declaring on 359/8 when they got rid of opener Shikhar Dhawan – who recorded a pair in the drawn affair. He fell to a ripper from Matthew Quinn – his innings lasting two balls extra than his previous. Cheteshwar Pujara got the start but threw it away after being caught off Paul Walter for 23 off 35.

Rahul, who came to open the innings in place of Murali Vijay, took some time before playing his strokes. He waited 21 deliveries before opening his account with a boundary off Matt Coles. With the arrival of Pujara, he again took the backseat, allowing his senior partner to dictate the pace.

Pujara did look to have shaken off the first innings’ failure but departed early. Rahul then turned on the style and began scoring at brisk pace. Ajinkya Rahane walked ahead of Virat Kohli to spend some valuable time in the middle ahead of the first Test that starts next week in Edgbaston. He, too, looked in good nick, as the pair added an unbeaten 49 runs between them.

Earlier, Essex declared their innings eight overs and after adding 14 runs into the second session and thus giving India a lead of 36 runs. This was after Indian bowlers failed to rein in the Essex batsmen as they continued to score freely, reaching 345/8 at the lunch break.

Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami began the proceedings for India but the overnight pair of James Foster (42) and Paul Walter (75) picked up from where they’d left on Thursday. They began finding boundaries forcing Kohli to bring in spin in the form of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav as early as the ninth over of the morning. But the boundaries continued to flow with Kuldeep being struck for three of those within his first two overs.

Walter then smacked Kuldeep over the boundary rope for a six – a shot that took him to his half-century.

Umesh Yadav (4/35) then struck in his consecutive overs with the scalp of Foster on 42 and the new man Matt Coles (0) to reduce Essex to 283/7. The stand between Foster and Walter was worth 91 runs.

However, Walter was then joined by Aron Nijjar (29*) and they ensured the twin blows didn’t affect their scoring rate. Meanwhile, R Ashwin, who sat in the dressing room on the Day 2 after being hit on his index finger during batting practice, was back on the field and came in to bowl the 75th over as part of a double-change from India alongwith Shardul Thakur. But they failed to provide any breakthrough with the duo building a 51-runs stand which was broken by Ishant with Walter being caught by Rahane on 75.

Brief Scores: India 395 & 89/2 (KL Rahul 36*, Cheteshwar Pujara 23; Matthew Quinn 1/5) drew with Essex 359/8 (Paul Walter 75, Tom Westley 57; Umesh Yadav 4/35)