England ran into the skilled resistance of Ajinkya Rahane as India defied the greenest of Lord’s pitches of day one of the second Investec Test.
James Anderson set aside his disciplinary worries to tick off a clutch of new statistical landmarks, but number five Rahane’s second Test hundred ensured India were no compliant fall guys after being put in to deal first with awkward conditions.
Anderson will face a preliminary International Cricket Council hearing next Tuesday after India instigated a Level Three charge against him for his part in an altercation with Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test.
He was not necessarily at his best, but still finished with figures of four for 55 – including, eventually, the wicket of Rahane with a nonchalant return catch one-handed low to his left.
Rahane (103) had dug in admirably, however – principally in a stubborn eighth-wicket stand of 90 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar – to underpin a recovery from 145 for seven as India doubled the score for the next two wickets to close on 290 for nine.
Rahane’s 151-ball century was built on admirable defence, but contained 15 fours too – and a memorable straight six from the crease off Anderson, with the second new ball.
Anderson and Stuart Broad erred in line on a sunny morning and wicketkeeper Matt Prior missed two catches as India largely kept the bowlers at bay.
The hosts were much-improved in the afternoon, and reaped just rewards, before Rahane and Kumar – their stumbling block in the first Test, with two half-centuries – held them up for 24 overs.
Gary Ballance escaped any punishment from his employers on the eve of this Test after being pictured apparently swaying and stripped to the waist in a Nottingham nightclub after the Trent Bridge stalemate on Sunday.
He and Anderson combined to see the back of Shikhar Dhawan – a 230th Test victim in England for the pace spearhead, taking him past Fred Trueman as this country’s most prolific wicket-taker on home soil.
Ballance held a neat catch at third slip when Anderson found the edge with movement down the slope to the left-hander.
Broad might have reduced India to 11 for two had Prior managed to cling on to a tough chance diving low to his right in front of slip, with opener Murali Vijay on nought.
Anderson began with five maidens on a day when he would also become all-time leading wicket-taker at Lord’s and in Tests between England and India, but he and Broad both allowed Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara the freedom to leave a high percentage of deliveries and often watch the ball swing and seam harmlessly by.
Stoic number three Pujara spent 24 balls on nought, but it was to be Vijay who fell to first-change Liam Plunkett.
England’s quickest bowler pitched up only sparingly, and it was a short-of-a-length ball that had the opener aiming to leg but edging to third slip – where Ballance was safe again with a very sharp chance.
An over of spin from Moeen Ali almost salvaged England’s morning, but instead danger man Virat Kohli was dropped by Prior on 20 off the final ball of the session.
It was not a costly slip, Kohli giving Prior a second chance when he edged some outswing behind after Anderson switched to the nursery end.
Pujara’s vigil extended to 117 balls before Ben Stokes bowled him with an especially good delivery which jagged up the slope between a forward-defensive bat and pad to hit middle-stump.
When Broad then joined the wicket-takers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni his 250th Test victim caught-behind pushing forward, India had a fight on their hands to eke out even 200.
Jadeja walked out to a boos from a crowd apparently less than pleased with his perceived role in the spat with Anderson – and he soon had more time to contemplate the Level Two counter-accusation lodged by England against him, after Moeen had him lbw on the front-foot defence.
Anderson had Stuart Binny lbw with another that nipped against the Lord’s gradient – although DRS would have reprieved the batsman on height, if in use for this series.
But thereafter, as others picked up the slack to rest Broad and Anderson, Rahane and Kumar took over.
Plunkett, reportedly troubled by a sore hamstring, resorted to a spell of round-the-wicket bombardment, but it got him and England nowhere.
It was therefore not until Broad torpedoed Kumar on the back foot with the second new ball that England struck again on a day perhaps marginally edged by the tourists after all.