Cricket: Vijay ton leads way for India

India's Murali Vijay leaves the field after scoring 122 runs not out. Photo / AP
India's Murali Vijay leaves the field after scoring 122 runs not out. Photo / AP

Murali Vijay fired an unbeaten 122 to lead India to 259-4 against England after the first day of the first test at Trent Bridge overnight.

Extending his fourth test century, Vijay finished a good opening day for India at the crease with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was 50 not out.

"It's a dream start for me; as a team we have done well, and worked hard," Vijay said.

He was also overjoyed at finally getting to three figures outside of India, and against someone than Australia. "It's very important for my personal satisfaction, especially after getting 97 in South Africa (in December). Duncan (Fletcher, India coach and former England coach) has helped a lot. He knows how it works out here."

James Anderson was the leading bowler for England, with 2-70. He made the only breakthrough in the first session, removing Shikhar Dhawan for 12, and dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara for 38 straight after lunch thanks to a brilliant one-handed catch at silly mid-on by Ian Bell.

England's series defeat against Sri Lanka, alongside poor batting form, has intensified pressure on Alastair Cook's captaincy and position in the side. But Anderson praised his leader's response to India's aggressive batting in the first session on a flat pitch that left little for the bowlers to exploit.

"He did brilliantly today and we all backed him up," Anderson said. "He set fields both captain and bowler were happy with. When the ball is not doing anything then it is easy for the batsman to put their hands through it on a good pitch."

But Anderson admitted the decision to leave third man open, which India exploited at the start of the day, meant his confidence was knocked and he struggled to bowl a regular line.

"We know those guys play the ball late but I didn't bowl particularly well," Anderson said. "I probably got frustrated by the early boundaries at third man. I didn't bowl consistently enough. But we played around with tactics throughout the day, and went at them with a straight field after lunch which worked really well."

It was Vijay, in elegant touch, who made the most of the conditions and an open third man. He hit three fours off Anderson in the first over of the day as India raced to 106-1 by lunch. But Vijay acknowledged that England's response after lunch made it tricky for him.

"It was a good batting wicket, but after lunch there was a period where it was doing a bit," he said. "It was a good experience for me."

In the second session, Anderson and Stuart Broad improved their line and length, and both were rewarded. Broad followed Anderson's removal of Pujara by dismissing Virat Kholi on 1 in the next over.

And soon after tea, Liam Plunkett got his only wicket of the day when Ajinkya Rahane, on 32, toe-ended a short ball to silly point, where Cook took an impressive reaction catch.

India will hope to strengthen its advantage on a favourable pitch on Thursday, but will be aware that rain is forecast around the time of the tea interval.

-AP

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