Toss was delayed by 20 minutes due to rain.
Rohit Sharma blended caution with aggression en route his highest overseas Test score of 83 as India gained early advantage, reaching 157 for 2 at tea on the opening day of the second Test against England at Lords on Thursday.
Put in to bat at the Lord’s, the Indian opening pair of KL Rahul (55 batting off 143 balls) and Rohit negated the overcast conditions on a good batting surface during the visiting team’s first century opening stand since the tour of 2007.
They added 126 for the opening stand to set up a much-needed foundation for India.
Rohit hit 11 boundaries and a six off 145 balls while Rahul also got a maximum to his name as he scored his second successive half-century. Rahul also had three boundaries to his name.
It needed a magic delivery from veteran James Anderson, who got a 43-over old Dukes to jag back viciously and literally cut the batsman into half, ending Rohit’s dreams of a maiden Test hundred in a SENA country.
The out-of-form Cheteshwar Pujara (9) was also snuffed out by Anderson (14-4-28-2) before tea to bring some cheer in the English camp.
The art of defending in bowler-friendly Test match conditions is not something one would have associated with Rohit even a few years back but here is a man obsessed about doing well in whites in all conditions.
He is ready to shed his ego that any talented batter with such a wide array of strokes would have, and just play the game his team needs him to play.
There is something about his defensive game that is breathtakingly beautiful. There are players if they defend, the dressing room starts shivering that there could be demons in the track but when Rohit defends he brings in a sense of calmness.
It was an enticing first hour but the Indian openers displayed impressive technique and, more than anything else, appreciable temperament to tackle Anderson and Ollie Robinson’s testing new ball spells.
Anderson bowls two different inswingers without any apparent change of wrist position. The first one with a wobbly seam and other with an upright seam and fingers widened which looks to be shaping away but nips back in.
Both Rohit and Rahul battled their minds to leave most of the deliveries on the ‘fourth off-stump’ channel. Both didn’t fiddle much with those incoming deliveries and knew where their off-stump was and covered the swing.
If Rohit left it alone at times not offering any stroke, Rahul would present a dead bat but keep it close to his body, which ensured that he negated the maximum chance of getting a nick.
The first 10 overs yielded only 11 runs but not for one moment did one feel bored or bogged down.
The first boundary came in the 13th over bowled by Sam Curran. The moment the left-arm seamer drifted on pads, Rohit flicked one behind square for the team’s first boundary.
Having done all the hard work during that first hour, Rohit understood the urgency to get a move on in the scoreboard and, in Curran’s next over, smashed four boundaries.
The first one was a wide over-pitched delivery that he reached and hit it towards backward point and followed that up with a streaky boundary wide of slip cordon.
Then came the best shot of the session, a back-foot punch through covers and then a flick through mid-wicket.
In Curran’s next over, he got his sixth boundary to make a cautious start look good enough.
Robinson wasn’t the same bowler in the post lunch session as he bowled more inswingers that drifted. Rohit brought up his 50 but the celebrations were muted.
Mark Wood, the world’s fastest pacer, was brought after lunch but this time Rohit’s mistimed pull-shot fetched him a six and ‘chinese cut’ got him a boundary.
The lofted shot in 2014 off Moeen Ali that didn’t beat the mid-on fielder and invited a million criticism was executed perfectly in 2021.
Rohit kept the scoreboard moving and allowed Rahul to take 100-odd balls to reach 20 but confidence is infectious. Rahul, who was unable to get a boundary for more than 100 balls, suddenly stepped out and hit Moeen Ali over long-off for a six.
Once Rohit left the scene, Rahul upped the ante and finished the session with a glowing cover-drive.