India produced a classic display of Test batting to take command at Trent Bridge.
In a must-win Test, the Indian batsmen finally upped their game to offer their kingpin captain the support he deserves. In turn, Virat Kohli turned on the talent with another important innings for his country.
Keen to get at India and put them on the back foot right from the start, England captain Joe Root invited Kohli and his men to bat first, but this time the Indian openers managed to put together a stand of significance.
Lokesh Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan brought up their half-century stand off 97 balls in the 16th over before Chris Woakes struck three times in four overs to remove Dhawan (35), Rahul (23) and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) – the latter right before lunch to leave India on 82-3 after 26.4 overs. England would have enjoyed their lunch and the chance to discuss their plans to rumble through the Indian middle order.
India had other plans, as Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane batted through the whole of the next session, playing with care and caution against a good England attack that was getting the ball to move. It was a thoroughly absorbing session of Test cricket as the batsmen crafted their innings with the care demanded by the situation. While Kohli is the leading batsman in the series, Rahane has flattered to deceive, scoring 15, 2, 18 and 13 in his four innings to date, but he started to make amends in this partnership with Kohli.
Both batsmen went to their half-centuries shortly before tea with the score on 189-3.
The partnership was broken by an instinctive left-handed catch by Alastair Cook off Stuart Broad to remove Rahane for 81. Jonny Bairstow dodged a bullet as it was a reasonable catch for a Test keeper to claim, so he’ll be grateful for Cook’s safe hands on this occasion.
Rahane’s 81 came off 131 balls with 12 fours, having added a vital 159 for the fourth wicket with his skipper to leave India on a very solid 241-4.
Adil Rashid struck a heavy blow when he had Kohli caught by Ben Stokes after he had scored an excellent 97. The Indian captain took 152 balls over an innings that included 11 fours.
Hardik Pandya (18) and debutant Rishabh Pant (22 not out) saw their side through to the end of play, before Anderson had Pandya caught at slip by Jos Buttler, leaving India well set on 307-6.
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