India’s batsmen get time in the middle on day one at Chelmsford against Essex
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
India’s batsmen got some vital red-ball practice in the middle in their tour match with Essex at Chelmsford.
Captain Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul and Dinesh Karthik all passed 50 as the tourists closed on 322 for six.
However, it did not start well for India ahead of the Test series with England, which gets under way at Edgbaston next Wednesday.
Shikhar Dhawan fell first ball for a duck and Cheteshwar Pujara made only one, with both edging Matt Coles into the gloves of James Foster to leave their side in trouble at five for two.
Ajinkya Rahane then gave the veteran wicketkeeper a third victim when he edged Matthew Quinn behind for 17 to leave them 44 for three.
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But then the recovery started as Vijay and Kohli put on 90 for the fourth wicket. Vijay was patient as the wickets tumbled at the other end and he struck seven boundaries in a 113-ball 53 before he played down the wrong line to Paul Walter and lost his off-stump.
Kohli was fluent from the off, powerfully cutting Matthew Dixon for his first boundary and effortlessly progressed to 68 before handing left-armer Walter a second wicket when he edged to Varun Chopra at slip.
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Rahul and Karthik added 114 in 22.4 overs for the sixth wicket before Rahul drove Aron Nijjar to Dixon at mid-off for 58.
Karthik struck 15 boundaries as he reached stumps unbeaten on 82 from just 94 deliveries and was supported by Hardik Pandya (33 not out) in an unbroken stand of 61.
India coach Ravi Shastri played down concerns about the pitch after the tourists requested the match be reduced from four days to three.
Shastri insists India are happy to play on any pitch on overseas tours as the preparation of the playing surface is entirely down to the preference of the home side.
Shastri said: “On this entire trip, you will never see an Indian team giving excuses with regards to conditions or the pitch.
“The groundsman asked me if there was enough grass on, do you want the grass to be taken off? I said absolutely not.
“It is your prerogative. What you give us, we play. I said leave it.
“There was grass there, so don’t take anything off.
“Our challenge is to beat the opposition. We take pride in performing wherever we go.
“We want to be the best travelling side in the word. So the last person who will make a complaint will be this Indian team.”