Afghanistan came back strongly in the third session © AFP
Afghanistan came back strongly in the third session © AFP

India are 347 for 6 at stumps on Day One of the Test against Afghanistan. A spirited recovery from the Afghan bowlers, combined with some unnecessary defensive batting, led to a phase when India lost 5 wickets for 54 runs in 23.1 overs, squandering the advantage they had. They were soaring at 280 for 1, their run rate well over 5 as late as in the third session. Murali Vijay (105) had been more sedate in comparison with Shikhar Dhawan (107), but he and KL Rahul had added 112 at almost 5 an over and were in control.

Vijay went first, shouldering arms to Wafadar Momand, who had bowled steadily throughout the day. Chris Gaffaney ruled him out but Vijay reviewed, only for the decision to be overturned. Two balls later, Rahul chopped on to the stumps off Yamin Ahmadzai, who had also dismissed Dhawan earlier in the day.

Captain Ajinkya Rahane then went into an inexplicable shell, allowing Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman — the teenage spinners who had been unable to settle against Dhawan — slowly return to their grooves. Pujara hit 3 fours in an over from Asghar Stanikzai (yet to take a First-Class wicket), but it was clear that Rashid and Mujeeb were clawing back into the contest.

Rahane went first, trying to flick Rashid and missing. He was given not out, but Stanikzai’s review was spot on. Three overs later Mohammad Nabi caught Pujara brilliantly at leg gully off Mujeeb. Dinesh Karthik, returning after missing 87 Tests (an Indian record), pushed to substitute Nasir Jamal at backward point, set off blindly, was sent back by Hardik Pandya, and was run out.

Hardik and Ravichandran Ashwin played out till stumps. While this has been a good wicket to bat on, both seamers and spinners have found the odd delivery aiding them — albeit not frequently. A lot will depend on how the pitch holds from here. The inexperienced Afghan batting line-up will be put to serious test.

Brief scores:

India 347 for 6 (Murali Vijay 105, Shikhar Dhawan 107, KL Rahul 54; Yamin Ahmadzai 2 for 32, Wafadar Mamond 1 for 53) vs Afghanistan.