India vs Essex: Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik hit fifties, Essex pacers serve pre-Test warning
Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Dinesh Karthik hit fifties to put India in command after a poor start against Essex in their three-day warm-up match in Chelmsford.Updated: Jul 25, 2018 23:02 IST
Essex’s most famous current player was absent, but Alastair Cook’s County issued a warning to India that despite the harsh summer, England can make life difficult for the visiting batsmen.
Green pitches help the ball move prodigiously and sub-continent teams look at them with suspicion. Coach Ravi Shastri though said this India squad was different and won’t complain after India recovered after being reduced to 3/44.
Skipper Virat Kohli (68), batting at No 5, and Murali Vijay (53) led the rescue in the morning, and in-form KL Rahul (58) and Dinesh Karthik – the top-scorer -- produced useful hits in improved conditions against the older ball in the last two sessions.
India, electing to bat, were 322/6 at stumps with Karthik (82 no) and Hardik Pandya (33 no) together.
The match was reduced to three days and is not a first-class affair, but India’s top-order batsmen wobbled against the moving ball on a green pitch at the Essex County Cricket ground on Wednesday.
Coach Ravi Shastri clarified in the morning that India will never have issues with a green pitch and that it will never complain about the playing surface.
There was early movement on offer and Essex pacemen Matt Coles in the morning and second XI left-arm pacer, Paul Walter, in the post-lunch session, showed India batsmen are vulnerable when the ball is pitched up and moves on a helpful surface.
Coles removed Shikhar Dhawan for a first-ball duck and Cheteshwar Pujara too fell to him, for one run off seven deliveries. The India No 3 has struggled to score runs even when set, a problem that surfaced in the Johannesburg Test in South Africa and during his Yorkshire stint.
Ajinkya Rahane was done in by Matthew Quinn, also caught by keeper James Foster, reducing the visitors to 44/3 in the morning.
Vijay’s batting rhythm is less about scoring runs and more about staying focused and patient. The seasoned hand, let off twice early, got a good run and showed what is needed to click in England while Kohli picked his shots and spots.
Both fell as they got a touch adventurous, Vijay beaten and bowled as Walter angled one to beat his defence and Kohli edged a wide, slower delivery to first slip.
KL Rahul played fluently, attacking Walter as he tried to vary his pace against a class batsman. Karthik, the No 1 stumper due to Wriddhiman Saha’s injury, put away the bad balls to reach an almost run-a-ball half-century. It would have added to Pujara’s pressure as well.
The top-order wobble would have interested Jimmy Anderson, expected to lead the England attack with the squad to be named on Thursday.
The unfancied Essex pacers tested the India top order, which will be crucial in India avenging their 2014 series debacle. Kohli (68) and Vijay, who will be crucial in that task, raised 90 runs for the fourth wicket as a crowd of a few thousands turned up and appreciated good cricket by both sides.
Rahul’s almost two-hour knock (92 b, 12x4) ended when he miscued left-arm spinner Aron ‘Stuart Singh’ Nijjar, another second XI player, to mid-off.
Brief scores: India XI (M Vijay 53, V Kohli 68, KL Rahul 58, D Karthik 82no, M Coles 2/31, P Walter 2/90) vs Essex.