U.K. London, Lord’s: Indian opening baters Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul registered a 126-run opening stand against England on the opening day of the ongoing second Test here at the Lord’s Cricket Ground on Thursday. India is now in a commanding position with a scoreboard reads 276 for 3, with Rahul remains not out on 127 and Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on 1, when the day was called off. The hundred opening partnership is India’s second century stand for the first wicket against England in England since 1980. In fact, the last time it happened was in 2007 at Nottingham, when Washim Jaffer and Dinesh Kartik had an opening partnership of 147 runs.
A solid opening century stand
Joe Root won the toss and opted to bowl first. The decision was influenced by the tinge of green on the wicket and a heavy over-cast condition. The opening duo made a cautious start. They both were leaving balls outside the off-stump and playing balls close to their bodies. Their adjustment to the techniques is why the Indian innings got to great starts in both of the innings India had played so far. Rahul was very much concentrating on leaving the balls. He played 105 balls for his initial score of 16. But Rohit was in a completely different mood. He hit Sam Curran for four boundaries in his one over. Suddenly, the scoring rate increased and English bowlers were finding it difficult to control Rohit.
A hook to Mark Wood to a six told the story of his confidence in himself on the shot that caused his downfall in previous tests. He was playing beautifully until James Anderson bold him with an in-dipper. He made 83 in 145 balls with 12 hits to the fence and one maximum hit.
Rahul lords over England
As soon as Rohit got out, Rahul took over the charge. He came out of his defensive shell and began to score freely. After having started slowly, Rahul milked England’s bowlers, including Anderson, through the off side for boundaries. He drove through the covers and square of the wicket with equal panache after having brought up a 50 off 137 balls. The highlights of his innings included a delectable square drive off Anderson in the third session and a straight six off Moeen Ali in the second as Rahul grew in confidence as the innings progressed. Rahul brought up his 100 off 212 balls with nine fours and one six. This was Rahul’s second hundred in England and first at Lord’s. His innings exudes a class and exuberance.
Conundrums of Pujara and Kohli
India lost two more wickets, one was Chetashwar Pujara and the other was Indian Captain Virat Kohli. Both are now struggling to know where their off-stumps are. Kohli is now taking the guard off the stump and hence playing the balls that are on the fifth and sixth stump. Instead of leaving balls, he is forcing himself to flirt with those balls. His stupendous success with the bat in the 2018 series in England was due to leaving those innocuous deliveries outside the off-stump. He needs to recalibrate his guard as quickly as possible. He is a player of sheer class and he needs to score now for making any semblance of hope for India’s victory.
INDIA DAY 1
R Sharma b Anderson 83 KL Rahul not out 127 C Pujara c Bairstow b Anderson…….9 V Kohli (c) c Root b Robinson……..42 A Rahane not out…………………..1 EXTRAS: (b 8, lb 5, nb 1)……………14 TOTAL: (90 Ov, RR: 3.06)………276/3 Yet to bat: Rishabh Pant, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.
Fall of wickets: 1-126 (Rohit Sharma, 43.4 ov), 2-150 (Cheteshwar Pujara, 49.6 ov), 3-267 (Virat Kohli,84.4 ov).
BOWLING: James Anderson 20-4-52-2, Ollie Robinson23-7-47-1, Sam Curran 18-1-58-0, Mark Wood 16-1-66-00, Moeen Ali 13-1-40-0