Nottingham: Virat Kohli (97, 152b, 11×4) and Ajinkya Rahane (81, 131b, 12×4) put on a stand of 159 runs for the fourth wicket as India recovered from a slump to post a commendable score on the first day of the third Test at Trent Bridge, here Saturday. At stumps India were 307 for six with debutant Rishabh Pant (22 batting at the crease).
After the visitors had been reduced to 82 for three in the first session, Kohli and Rahane, stood up to the four-pronged pace England pace attack to redeem India’s batting woes which once threatened to engulf the side.
England won the toss and put India in and for once, the visitors looked good at the top of the order as Shikhar Dhawan (35, 65, 7×4), playing in place of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul 23 (53b, 4×4) put on 62 runs for the first wicket. More importantly they spent close to 19 overs in the middle and that helped the pitch lose some of its moisture. It was immense contribution keeping in mind how India’s top three have so far fared in the series.
Chris Woakes (3/75) then had a dream spell as he got rid of Dhawan, Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) in quick succession to once more bring back the nightmares that have so far affected Indian batting in the series. But Kohli and Rahane stood tall.
Both displayed admirable technique and were careful to let deliveries, even slightly outside the off-stump, go. When the loose ball came along they were quick enough to put it away. Both stood just a bit outside the crease to negate the swing that James Anderson and Company were getting.
But even then the job was not easy with some deliveries kicking up from the good length spot. However, with both batsmen playing with soft hands, they were able to tackle the steep deliveries. India were also helped as Ben Stokes (0/56) failed to find the right areas to bowl to.
However, England came back late into the post tea session with the wickets of Kohli, Rahane and Hardik Pandya (18). Rahane was the first to depart caught brilliantly at first slip by Alastair Cook off Stuart Broad (1/64). The England opener just stuck out his left hand to pluck the ball out of thin air. Rahane may rue his luck, but then he was guilty of playing away from his body.
Kohli followed when he was on the threshold of his 23rd Test century. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1/46) being used just to help England get close the second new ball quickly, produced that perfect flighted delivery to induce a drive from Kohli. The Indian skipper trying to complete his drive fell for the trap and the resultant edge was picked up by the only slip Stokes.
A dejected Virat Kohli rues his luck after falling three short of his century at Trent Bridge, Saturday PTI Photo