Breaking Down Murali Vijay's Century for India vs. England at Trent Bridge, 2014

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Breaking Down Murali Vijay's Century for India vs. England at Trent Bridge, 2014
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Murali Vijay struck an unbeaten 122 on the opening day of the first Test against England at Trent Bridge, guiding India to 259-4 at stumps in Nottingham. 

Despite having failed to score a hundred on foreign soil in all of his previous 20 attempts, the opener proved to be the rock of his team's all-important first innings, calmly stroking his way to a memorable century to help his team overcome significant setbacks in the day's middle session. 

Indeed, the loss of India's finest batsmen in Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in the space of just 10 balls after the lunch interval left the visitors lurching at 107-3 on a wicket seemingly ready to gift something more like 500 to MS Dhoni's men.

But alongside Ajinkya Rahane, and then more importantly Dhoni, Vijay propelled the tourists into a strong position by the conclusion of Wednesday's action, celebrating the fourth and most significant hundred in his Test career.

Below, we break down the three distinct phases of the right-hander's innings. 

 

Morning Session

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When Vijay arrived at Trent Bridge on Wednesday morning, he surely must have grinned at what he saw: A brown, flat wicket more reminiscent of the surfaces found in Mumbai, Chennai or Kolkata than what has typically been offered up to India during previous visits to English shores.  

Once Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat, that grin must have turned into an ear-to-ear beaming smile. When the ball refused to deviate a single millimetre for James Anderson, you can imagine a chuckle being enjoyed. 

And when deliveries from Liam Plunkett bounced several feet before Matt Prior? Well, the unassuming Indian was probably howling with laughter. Inside his own head, anyway. 

On a dreadfully lifeless Nottingham strip, Vijay got the visitors off to a flyer, racing to 55 with 11 boundaries by the time lunch arrived, leaving India at 106-1. 

Benefiting from the low bounce and lack of pace, the 30-year-old began his innings by frustrating Alastair Cook and England with a bevy of fours to the third-man region. Anderson, the man owning a sublime record at the venue, looked repeatedly unimpressed. 

Then finding his timing, Vijay became more expansive, clipping balls off his pads to the fence, while also stroking a sumptuous back-foot drive through cover.

After a dreadful tour of New Zealand, the opener had the platform he craved. 

 

Afternoon Session

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Vijay was not the man one envisaged when pondering India's capacity to push England this summer. No, that was meant to be Pujara or Kohli or perhaps even Rahane, Dhoni or Shikhar Dhawan. 

In fact, a poor outing at Trent Bridge would have likely seen the right-hander disposed of for the experienced Gautam Gambhir.

Yet the right-hander's innings on the opening day of the series was defined by his unwavering attentiveness in the afternoon session, a resilient showing that was almost solely responsible for the Indians' gradual escape from an unexpected hole.   

In the wake of the sudden departures of Pujara and Kohli, Vijay refused to fall victim to Cook's attempts at starving the tourists, reining in his game to halt the home side's surge. 

Between lunch and tea, the opener faced 87 balls for only 37 runs, despite being well set on a sluggish Nottingham surface. Most notable was the right-hander's patience outside off-stump, only attempting to pierce the strong off-side fields when Plunkett and Stuart Broad grossly over-pitched. 

With Rahane providing the assistance, Vijay hauled India away from the trouble that briefly threatened to derail the opening phase of their campaign.

 

Evening Session

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Resuming after the interval on 92, the defiant Indian watched his partner fall victim to Plunkett in the first over of the final session, which left India sitting precariously at 178-4. 

While by no means in desperate turmoil, the loss of Vijay in the next 30 minutes could have seen Dhoni's men capitulate on a wicket tailor-made to their strengths. 

Acknowledging the importance of establishing a partnership alongside his captain, the seemingly unflappable opener grafted his way toward a century, using almost nine overs after tea to reach his milestone. 

Treacherously, Vijay found himself stuck on 99 for 13 balls, eventually stealing a single to square leg to reach his first Test hundred outside of India. 

Content thereafter to allow Dhoni to push the score along—the team's leader raced to 50 not out from just 64 deliveries with typical exuberance against a tiring English attack—Vijay sauntered his way to 122 at stumps, ensuring the series' critical first day was won by the visitors. 

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