|Ground:||Trent Bridge, Nottingham|
|Scorecard:||England v India|
|Event:||India in England 2014|
DateLine: 9th July 2014
By Andy Jalil In association with INVESTEC
Nottingham – A highly disciplined fourth Test hundred by Murali Vijay was perfectly timed with his side faltering after deciding to bat on a slow flat pitch on the opening day of this eagerly anticipated series. Vijay featured in three stands of half-centuries, one in each session, which helped India to reach 259 for four by close of play. He remained unbeaten on a most commendable 122 having batted throughout the day and was in an unbroken stand of 81 with MS Dhoni who was 50 not out, his 30th Test half century.
Having conceded almost five runs an over in the first seven overs of the match, England struck with the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan with the left-hander edging behind for Matt Prior to take an athletic, one-handed diving catch off the bowling of James Anderson. Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara then revived the innings with both batsmen displaying a range of fine strokes.
Vijay, who had begun his innings with three consecutive fours in the first over, the first two steered to third man and then a drive to mid-wicket looked in control and Pujara too showed confidence, particularly with the lovely off drive off Liam Plunkett whom he later steered to the third man boundary to take his score to 34 and bring up India’s hundred.
Meanwhile Vijay had reached his fifth Test half century from 68 balls, hitting two boundaries off successive balls from Stuart Broad, the first of those was a stylish cover drive. At lunch India were going very nicely on 106 for one but the picture changed immediately after the break. Pujara, without adding to his lunch score of 38, was held at silly point with Ian Bell taking a fine diving catch off Anderson to end the 73-run stand.
A run later, Bell again brought off a good catch, this time off Broad, when Virat Kohli failed to get behind the line of the ball and edged to second slip. With the cream of India’s batsmen back in the pavilion, Vijay had the responsibility to battle for recovery. It was the time for him to bat with more caution and he showed great concentration, at one stage he faced 17 balls before scoring a run with just 18 runs coming from the first fourteen overs, after lunch, nine of which were maidens.
With such defensive batting Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane were able to add 71 from 163 balls in their fourth wicket stand. It was a stubborn partnership which withstood the frequent bowling changes between the five bowlers. The spinner among them, Moeen Ali, was brought on just under half an hour before tea but failed to make an impression. He had a brief spell in the first session as well.
Vijay, whose beautiful cover drive for four off Plunkett had taken him to 76 and later to 89 with a steered four to third man, was on 92 at tea with Rahane on 32 and India were 177 for three. It had been a slow session of 29 overs in which just 71 runs were scored but with two wickets having fallen, it was necessary for the tourists to bat with care.
Just as England had struck a blow earlier immediately after lunch, they did so again straight after tea with Plunkett getting the benefit of an unusual field placing. Cook stationed himself at silly point for the pace bowler and held the catch as Rahane, on 32 from 81 balls, played his pull shot too early with the ball going off the toe of the bat.
After a straight drive for his 18th four had taken him to 99, Vijay faced 13 dot balls before scampering a single to mid-wicket to reach three figures. It was a well-deserved hundred which came from 214 balls. The second 50 of the hundred had taken 146 balls, compared to the first which came from only 68. It underlined the restrain that the opening batsman had shown later in his innings when the circumstance needed it.
A straight six, the only one of the innings, took Vijay to 110 and brought up the 50 of his partnership with Dhoni. Anderson finished with two wickets for 70 from 21 overs.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2014 Andy Jalil)