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Vijay repels England with stylish ton

India finishes day one of first Test on 259 for 4 as Dhoni weighs in with unbeaten half-century

Vijay repels England with stylish ton - Cricket News
Murali Vijay of India celebrates reaching his century.
M Vijay’s first overseas century – the fourth of his career – underpinned India’s batting effort on the first day of the series at Trent Bridge. England, which lost the toss on a slow and placid pitch, also had much to be satisfied about though, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowling superbly in tandem after lunch to give the side a route back into the game. By stumps on Wednesday (July 9), India had moved to 259 for 4, with Vijay and MS Dhoni having added 81 for the fifth wicket.
 
In South Africa last December, Vijay had been dismissed for 97 in Durban, a match India lost after being in a commanding position on the opening day. This time though, he overcame a tough passage of play soon after lunch and some nervous moments on 99 before proceeding serenely to stumps. Watchful, he showed great judgment of which deliveries to leave, but seldom let the bad ball go unpunished. Three fours in Anderson’s first over – two of them guided to third man – had set the tone and he used that stroke to great effect right through the day.
 
The opening partnership was worth 33 from just 41 balls when Shikhar Dhawan became Anderson’s 50th victim at Trent Bridge. By then, he had started to come round the wicket and as Dhawan sparred at the ball in tentative fashion, Matt Prior brilliantly caught the outside edge diving to his left.
 
Cheteshwar Pujara took a while to assess the conditions and then found them very much to his liking. He and Vijay rotated the strike well, and there were a couple of delightful back-foot punches through the covers and tucks off the pads as the scoreboard ticked along much to Alastair Cook’s discomfort.
 
There had been little hint of swing or seam movement in the first session, as India reeled off 106 runs, but things changed dramatically right after lunch. Anderson started running in while concealing the ball, and reverse swing reaped immediate rewards. Pujara, largely untroubled on his way to 38, overbalanced while trying to play one that Anderson shaped back into him, and Ian Bell – stationed at a very silly mid-on -- took a blinder at full stretch.
 
Virat Kohli, who has made no secret of his desire to leave his mark on this tour, was undone by a reverse-swung delivery that went the other way. This time, it was Broad, the most difficult of the bowlers to score off, and Kohli’s hesitant prod was well taken by Bell low to his left at second slip. Had an edge of Ajinkya Rahane’s bat not fallen short of the slip cordon on a surface where even the new ball didn’t carry much, it might have been a different story, but instead, he and Vijay steered India towards safety.
 
Liam Plunkett ran in hard and pounded the pitch, mostly from round the wicket, and there were tidy spells from Ben Stokes – included in place of Chris Jordan – as well. But with the Anderson-Broad threat negated, the batsmen started to wrest back the initiative. Moeen Ali, the main spinner with Graeme Swann now longer part of the equation, was targeted with the sweep and some deft footwork as India reached tea at 177 for 3.
 
Once again though, it was England that made best use of the break in play. Rahane, whose 32 included a super straight drive to get off the mark, toe-ended an attempted pull off Plunkett and Cook took the catch at silly point. England had worked on the theory that Rahane might pop one up eventually, and it was second time lucky for Cook, who had failed to react to a chance just minutes earlier off the same bowler.
 
Dhoni took eight balls to score, but made it amply clear thereafter that he was looking to play his strokes. He wasn’t afraid to give it a lash outside off stump and he also found the offside gaps a couple of times as the bowlers erred in length. Vijay, who showed no sign of ever being flustered, was struck once on the arm guard, but otherwise swayed out of harm’s way when the body was targeted.
 
He also eased into some lovely strokes on either side of the wicket. After reaching his century off 214 balls, there was even a straight six off Ali, a rare note of aggression in an innings that was all about unhurried accumulation. He finished the day on 122, with his captain having reached his half-century in the final over of the day. After the travails of 2011, India would have been more than happy with a day such as this.
M Vijay’s first overseas century – the fourth of his career – underpinned India’s batting effort on the first day of the series at Trent Bridge. England, which lost the toss on a slow and placid pitch, also had much to be satisfied about though, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad bowling superbly in tandem after lunch to give the side a route back into the game. By stumps on Wednesday (July 9), India had moved to 259 for 4, with Vijay and MS Dhoni having added 81 for the fifth wicket.
 
In South Africa last December, Vijay had been dismissed for 97 in Durban, a match India lost after being in a commanding position on the opening day. This time though, he overcame a tough passage of play soon after lunch and some nervous moments on 99 before proceeding serenely to stumps. Watchful, he showed great judgment of which deliveries to leave, but seldom let the bad ball go unpunished. Three fours in Anderson’s first over – two of them guided to third man – had set the tone and he used that stroke to great effect right through the day.
 
The opening partnership was worth 33 from just 41 balls when Shikhar Dhawan became Anderson’s 50th victim at Trent Bridge. By then, he had started to come round the wicket and as Dhawan sparred at the ball in tentative fashion, Matt Prior brilliantly caught the outside edge diving to his left.
 
Cheteshwar Pujara took a while to assess the conditions and then found them very much to his liking. He and Vijay rotated the strike well, and there were a couple of delightful back-foot punches through the covers and tucks off the pads as the scoreboard ticked along much to Alastair Cook’s discomfort.
 
There had been little hint of swing or seam movement in the first session, as India reeled off 106 runs, but things changed dramatically right after lunch. Anderson started running in while concealing the ball, and reverse swing reaped immediate rewards. Pujara, largely untroubled on his way to 38, overbalanced while trying to play one that Anderson shaped back into him, and Ian Bell – stationed at a very silly mid-on -- took a blinder at full stretch.
 
Virat Kohli, who has made no secret of his desire to leave his mark on this tour, was undone by a reverse-swung delivery that went the other way. This time, it was Broad, the most difficult of the bowlers to score off, and Kohli’s hesitant prod was well taken by Bell low to his left at second slip. Had an edge of Ajinkya Rahane’s bat not fallen short of the slip cordon on a surface where even the new ball didn’t carry much, it might have been a different story, but instead, he and Vijay steered India towards safety.
 
Liam Plunkett ran in hard and pounded the pitch, mostly from round the wicket, and there were tidy spells from Ben Stokes – included in place of Chris Jordan – as well. But with the Anderson-Broad threat negated, the batsmen started to wrest back the initiative. Moeen Ali, the main spinner with Graeme Swann now longer part of the equation, was targeted with the sweep and some deft footwork as India reached tea at 177 for 3.
 
Once again though, it was England that made best use of the break in play. Rahane, whose 32 included a super straight drive to get off the mark, toe-ended an attempted pull off Plunkett and Cook took the catch at silly point. England had worked on the theory that Rahane might pop one up eventually, and it was second time lucky for Cook, who had failed to react to a chance just minutes earlier off the same bowler.
 
Dhoni took eight balls to score, but made it amply clear thereafter that he was looking to play his strokes. He wasn’t afraid to give it a lash outside off stump and he also found the offside gaps a couple of times as the bowlers erred in length. Vijay, who showed no sign of ever being flustered, was struck once on the arm guard, but otherwise swayed out of harm’s way when the body was targeted.
 
He also eased into some lovely strokes on either side of the wicket. After reaching his century off 214 balls, there was even a straight six off Ali, a rare note of aggression in an innings that was all about unhurried accumulation. He finished the day on 122, with his captain having reached his half-century in the final over of the day. After the travails of 2011, India would have been more than happy with a day such as this.

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