England claws back after Kohli, Rahane domination

Virat Kohli scored 97 and Ajinkya Rahane 81 as England clawed back to leave India at 307/6 at the end of day's play.

The stand between Kohli and Rahane took India past 300 on day one of Trent Bridge Test.   -  AP

This was the sort of day India had been waiting for all August. Its batsmen had left Lord's shell-shocked, confidence blown to smithereens, with an embarrassing series loss looming on the horizon. But there was finally some relief at Trent Bridge on Saturday. Virat Kohli fell three short of a hundred while Ajinkya Rahane finally rediscovered his touch as India made a steady start to the third Test. The ball did not hoop around corners like it had last week but this was still a bold, purposeful day's of cricket from the visitor.

The charge was led by Kohli, who would be furious with himself for the manner he got out. The Indian captain had looked untroubled, over an hour into the final session, when Adil Rashid tossed a leg-break wide. Kohli's eyes lit up and he was lured into a drive; the ball took the edge and settled into Ben Stokes's hands at first slip. Rishabh Pant, at 20, the youngest wicket-keeper to play for India, on his debut smacked the second ball he faced in Test cricket for a six. Even Hardik Pandya's dismissal at the close of play, which left India 307 for six at stumps, should not dampen touring Indian team's spirits.

Kohli, Rahane dominate England: Key highlights

A good weekend crowd drifted into Trent Bridge to watch the opening day's play. At the toss, Joe Root opted to field first; it was a slightly surprising decision for this was no green top; nor were there dark clouds overhead like at Lord's. India made two changes that were predictable -- Rishabh Pant for Dinesh Karthik and Jasprit Bumrah for Kuldeep Yadav -- and a third that was slightly less so, Shikhar Dhawan replacing Murali Vijay at the top of the order. None of India's three openers has made a case for himself on this tour and it may seem, from the outside, like a matter of simply picking any two at random.

Perhaps Dhawan looked good in training; or it was felt Vijay needed a rest. Whatever was the case, it worked. India's first pair added 60 runs, the best opening partnership by a visiting side in England in two years. Dhawan left the ball well, played it late and still gathered runs at a good clip. It was only after the first drinks break that England broke through with Chris Woakes' strikes. Dhawan fell for 35, edging the ball to second slip after he was squared up. Woakes struck again in his next over, setting K.L. Rahul up nicely: five out-swingers were followed by an in-swinger that snared him leg-before. Wickets often fall in clusters and India appeared to have weathered this little storm until, on the stroke of lunch, Cheteshwar Pujara played an uncharacteristic, impulsive hook shot against Woakes and was held at long-leg. Pujara was shattered, stood motionless for several moments before the players trooped off the field.

At this stage, things were evenly poised and a wicket would have tipped the balance England's way. Instead, Kohli and Rahane took control. This was a slow surface, and perhaps more benign conditions than India's batsmen had encountered all month. But it still needed a robust effort from two of the side's senior batsmen to restore the dressing room's confidence. They played their shots without the slightest hesitation, punishing England's bowlers when they strayed in line. Kohli, who had looked unconvincing before lunch, was up and running with a searing drive through the covers off Woakes. When Adil Rashid handed out a few gifts, Kohli gleefully accepted them. Rahane played a number of delightful shots through the offside - cover drives, a few slashes over point, a fierce square drive off Woakes. His half-century, which came off 76 balls, was his first in nine Tests, going back a year. India added 107 runs in the second session, without the loss of a wicket, and suddenly it was England who looked worried on the field.

India chugged along merrily after tea, Rahane dropped once on 57 by James Anderson at point, although it was a hard chance. This alliance for the fourth wicket had swelled to 159 when it was finally snapped, Alastair Cook grabbing an astonishing one-handed catch at first slip to dismiss Rahane for 81. Kohli too would miss out on a century but they had done enough.

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