Brief Scores: India 306 (KL Rahul 101, R Jadeja 75, CN Miles 3-42) vs County Select XI on Day One at Chester-Le-Street.
The Indian Test team is currently playing a three-day, first-class fixture against the County Select XI as part of their preparation before the all-important 5-match Test series against England. The former haven’t played any cricket since the WTC Final which took place four weeks ago and the tour game is an opportunity for the team to get some match practice as well as decide their combinations before the first Test which is scheduled to start on August 4 at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
The first day’s play was expected to favour the batting side as the pitch at the Riverside Ground in Durham was relatively flat and the weather, sunny. After Rohit Sharma opted to bat on winning the toss, KL Rahul’s century along with Ravindra Jadeja’s 75 off 146 balls helped carry the team to a respectable 300 following what was otherwise a dismal batting performance despite the favorable conditions.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane missed the tour game due to minor injury concerns. Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin were amongst the players rested while Avesh Khan and Washington Sundar played against the Indians as part of the County Select XI due to the unavailability of some of their players.
Top order fails to perform
Rohit Sharma, along with Mayank Agarwal, opened the batting for the Indian team. Good bowling up front left Rohit searching for runs on what seemed to be a difficult 9 off 31 balls before he was forced to induce a false hook shot off the bowling of Lyndon James. On the other hand, Mayank who seemed in good touch, scoring freely for his 28 off 35, got out trying to play an expansive cover drive. Pujara also failed to make any significant contribution, 21(47), while Vihari who seemed at his orthodox best for his 24 off 71 deliveries got out playing an unexpected rash shot which flew straight to the fielder at mid-off.
KL’s innings provides stability
KL Rahul who played his last Test in August 2019, made a strong case for his inclusion in the starting XI with his steady 101 retired out. He paced his innings perfectly, looking to judge the bowlers and the conditions up front and later opening his bat to play the loose balls to his advantage. KL hit 11 fours and one six in his 101 run innings and his crucial 127-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Jadeja helped steady the ship after the iffy start with India at 107/4 when they got together at the crease.
Good performance by the county XI
The County Select XI seemed to put in a decent overall performance. CN Miles was the pick of the blowers with returns of 3-42 from his 15 overs. The tight bowling in the first session ensured the Indian batsmen got no easy runs, helping build pressure which eventually led to the fall of wickets. With the exception of Avesh Khan who seemed rusty at the start and later injured himself fielding off his own bowling, all bowlers bowled good line and lengths frustrating the Indian batsmen and making them work hard for the runs scored.
Although conclusions are hard to derive out of tour games, it is clear that the Indian batsmen need to show stronger resolve if they are to succeed in England. For Day 2, India will be looking to get the County Select XI out early and have a good second innings with the bat. Jasprit Bumrah will be looking to gain some form ahead of the England games whereas Umesh, Siraj and Shardul will be hoping to make a case for their selections.
India are scheduled to play a 5-Test series against England from August 4 to September 14.