India had their best batting day in the Test series as they amassed 307/6 on Day 1 of the Trent Bridge Test. England clawed back late in the day but India will be happy that at least their batsmen provided some semblance of fight.
With the ball moving around early, the openers - Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul - provided a decent start but couldn't convert it into big scores. They had done the difficult job though, that of surviving the crucial first hour. Both the openers departed in quick succession. Pujara then played an uncharacteristic shot, pulling one straight to long leg and it seemed that India were again ready today and we their advantage.
However, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli then got together and stabilised the innings. The track eased up a bit and the two played some brilliant shots to add a partnership. The best thing about the Indian innings was the batsmen batted freely as the pitch seemed to ease up. Rahane went for his shots and he along with Kohli, kept the scoreboard ticking. Just when it looked like India were running away with it, England bounced back, Stuart Broad removed Rahane and then Kohli fell three runs short of his century.
It was a tricky period to come out to bat but debutant Rishabh Pant started off in style hitting the second ball he faced for a six straight back over Adil Rashid's head. He looked positive and comfortable out in the middle. England took the new ball straightaway and it was zipping around. Pant remained unbeaten on 22 off 32 but Hardik Pandya departed off the last ball of the day.
Surpassing 300 would have been a morale booster but the work is not done yet. The new ball is just 10 over old and England would look to make most of it early morning on Day 2. This is where Pant's role becomes crucial. He has looked positive so far and should look to continue with same momentum going into the second day. An attacking instinct will not just add crucial runs on the board but also create a mental impact on England. The lower-order needs to provide him support. Ravichandran Ashwin can bat while the others need to be sensible. With Pant playing the leading role, India should look to get closer to 400. However, positive intent will be the key. Go on the attack and demoralise the bowlers. Not just that, if Pant stays on, he will need to farm the strike sensibly batting with the tail. Another fascinating day awaits us.
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Having made a splendid white-ball comeback after four years in the T20 World Cup earlier this month, Ashwin made quite an impact in the three-match series against the Kiwis
India and inaugural World Test champions New Zealand will square off in a two-Test series beginning on 25 November in Kanpur.
In the three games that Ashwin played at the T20 World Cup, his five out of the six wickets were to traditional, Test-style off spin deliveries. He used the same skills against New Zealand and restricted the Kiwis to 164