India's tour to England got off to an impressive start in their tour match against Leicestershire on Thursday. Having won the toss and electing to bat first, the Indians amassed 333-4 in their first innings at Grace Road.
|India 1st innings|
|M Vijay||c Robson b Ireland||20||66||51|
|S Dhawan||retired hurt||60||139||100|
|G Gambhir||retired out||54||128||101|
|CA Pujara||retired out||57||139||98|
|V Kohli||b Thakor||29||51||49|
|AM Rahane||not out||47||98||77|
|RG Sharma||not out||43||65||64|
|Extras||(b 9, lb 13, w 1)||23|
|Total||(4 wickets; 90 overs)||333||(3.70 runs per over)|
The only concern for the day was a minor knock for opener Shikhar Dhawan, who left the field after being struck on the elbow. Further assessments revealed that the player sustained no serious injury, though.
The match does not have first-class status, since India requested to play as many of their 18-man squad as possible. Only 11 players are allowed to bat and field, but those players can be rotated.
Half-centuries from Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir and Che Pujara set the tone for what would be a productive day of batting. Dhawan and Murali Vijay opened the batting with Vijay dismissed early on for 20 off 51.
Vijay's attempt to drive failed, and he edged through to gully instead where Angus Robson took a comfortable catch. Dhawan was dropped on nought, a sign of a pitch that had just a little bit in it for the bowlers.
That disappeared soon enough, and Dhawan and Gambhir put on 119 runs for the second-wicket partnership. The pair continued steadily until lunch to put India firmly in control. Dhawan was put out of action shortly after lunch with Atif Sheikh getting some good pace and hitting the Indian opener on the elbow.
Pujara joined Gambhir at the crease and the pair added 64 runs before Gamhir retired out for 54 off 101. Virat Kohli strolled to the crease but scored just 29 off 49. A loose shot off Shiv Thakor saw Kohli undone by just a hint of swing.
Pujara also retired out after reaching his 50 with India very much in charge at 259-4. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma saw out the final overs of the day, finishing on 47 and 43 respectively.
It was a solid effort for India's young players. Just three members of the squad—MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma—have previously played a Test in England.
Getting used to the conditions will be a big challenge for the side, but it is important that India keep their cool. Their opposition are bottom of County Division Two and have not yet won a match this season.
Still, adjusting to swing and bounce will be a big plus for Duncan Fletcher's charges. Fletcher had previously said that the unpredictability of the youngsters will be their biggest advantage. As quoted by ESPNCricinfo, Fletcher said:
...Sometimes, because being unpredictable they will play some exciting cricket. There are some very, very exciting cricketers in this group who would go on to be very, very good cricketers for India. They might fire from this series and there will be some very, very good cricket played.
While a tour match is no way of counting your chickens, Fletcher can be pleased with the patience shown by his youngsters. Yes, it might have been fairly easy going, but it still takes some effort to stick it out in conditions fairly alien to players.
Just two days remain in the match, but the result is irrelevant. This is all about time in the middle and India's batsmen made the most of it today. The bad news is that rain is forecast for periods over the next two days, per AccuWeather.
India will then have one more tour match, against Derbyshire, to prepare for the first Test starting against England on 9 July.
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