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England battle hard despite rock Vijay

By Matt Somerford

India opener Murali Vijay’s first Test century on foreign soil ensured England were made to sweat on the opening day of the Investec series at Trent Bridge.

The 30-year-old right-hander batted through the day to progress to a chanceless 122 at the close in the tourists’ total of 259 for four.

It was hard going for England’s bowlers in conditions made for batting, although India required an unbroken fifth-wicket 81-run stand between Vijay and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to ensure they took the honours from the opening day.

James Anderson struck inside the opening half-hour to claim his 50th Test wicket at this venue – the most by any player – when Shikhar Dhawan was well caught by a diving Matt Prior.

England’s only moments of joy thereafter came immediately following the lunch and tea breaks as they were made to plot for any rewards.

That was never better illustrated than after the lunch break when the wickets of arguably India’s most coveted pair, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, were snared inside three overs of the re-start.

Murali Vijay acknowledges the crowd as he walks off Trent Bridge with his first Test century on foreign soil under his belt

After seeing 107 runs leaked, including 18 boundaries, during the opening session, skipper Alastair Cook earned immediate dividends for a change of approach.

Pujara lasted just his second ball of the new session when he was expertly caught by a diving Ian Bell after he was placed halfway down the pitch on the leg side.

Anderson had his second and England were soon celebrating again when Stuart Broad caught Kohli fishing on the back foot.

Bell held the catch at second slip – England’s fine fielding a feature of a difficult day – to leave India 107 for three.

The tourists’ response was to dig in during a sometimes attritional afternoon session, led under the watchful gaze of Vijay.

Whereas the opener had initially raced to his half-century inside the morning session from 68 balls, he dropped anchor to limit England’s probing lines and lengths.

With Rahane they saw India through to the tea break, but in the over after the resumption England again made a breakthrough, albeit in unlikely circumstances.

James Anderson became the first bowler to claim 50 Test wickets at Trent Bridge when he claimed Shikhar Dhawan early on

Rahane aimed a pull at Liam Plunkett only to toe-end the ball to an unsuspecting Cook at silly point.

The skipper’s reactions nonetheless needed to be sharp as he spooned the ball up in his hands with the aid of his stomach.

It was a wicket Plunkett had deserved after three balls earlier he had caught Rahane out with a short delivery that popped up and just away from Cook’s slightly laboured dive.

India captain Dhoni then strode to the crease with work to do to make sure his decision to bat first was vindicated.

His typical free-flowing strokeplay had to be checked, in part by the grinding surface, but he picked his moments to attack – most notably off Moeen Ali’s spin.

Vijay too reserved his aggression for the right times – he lifted Moeen over mid-on for the only six of the day – before reaching his century after spending a slightly nervous 14 balls on 99.

England had earlier opted to bring Ben Stokes back into the starting XI in place of Chris Jordan while India all-rounder Stuart Binny was handed his debut.

Stokes missed part of the evening session after appearing to suffer an injury, although he was able to bowl the penultimate over of the day to ease any concerns.

Match Scorecard / Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

Highlights from the evening session at Trent Bridge which saw Murali Vijay reach his hundred

6.13pm - STUMPS! Ind 259/4; Vijay 122 Dhoni 50 - It ends as India's day and the man at the heart of it was their opener Vijay, who batted through to post his first Test century away from India. Not a bad effort from a man who had averaged just 21.25 on foreign soil before today.

6.10pm - FIFTY! Dhoni (64b 5x4 0x6) - Plunkett gets some lift which surprises Dhoni, but he is good enough to angle the ball down through third man to pick up the run he needs to get to 50.

6.08pm - Stokes is going to bowl the penultimate over, which at least points to the fact he is fit.

5.50pm - There has been some disquiet about the apparent benign state of the pitch, although Trent Bridge head groundsman Steve Birks thinks the pitch will quicken as the game continues

5.45pm - Three overs into the new ball and there has been little encouragement for England. Dhoni sliced Anderson over gully for four.

5.33pm - England have now taken the new ball with nine overs left.

5.30pm - The new ball looks like it might be delayed - maybe until tomorrow - because Joe Root has been brought on for the first time. His second delivery is a full-toss and Dhoni cracks it away. India are 247 for four.

5.27pm - The final over before the new ball is due and Plunkett has managed to ping Vijay with a bouncer. It was a slow bouncer, but it had enough venom to catch the centurion out and thud into his arm guard. A couple of balls later, however, he drives confidently through point for four. The new ball cannot come quick enough. 

5.16pm - Vijay gets down the wicket and lofts Moeen over mid-off for the first six of the match. That also brings up the 50-run stand with Dhoni, who has done the majority of the scoring though with 32 from 37 balls.

5.10pm - Stokes has not reappeared after the drinks break. He appeared to suffer an injury during his last spell so that is an issue that will concern Cook and the backroom staff.

5.07pm - REVIEW! - Dhoni tries to paddle-sweep the first ball after drinks from Moeen Ali. He misses and Matt Prior takes the bails off. The square-leg umpire sends the decision upstairs - remember there is no DRS in this series - but Dhoni's foot was always behind the line.

4.57pm - Dhoni drives Stokes back down through mid-on for a boundary. It remains hard work for everyone out there to take the game by the scruff of the neck, although the India captain is showing some sign he would like to get a wriggle on.

4.36pm - CENTURY! Vijay (214b 18x4 0x6) - There it is. Vijay reaches his first Test century outside of India and the fourth of his career. He flicked James Anderson into the leg side and, while Joe Root made a diving stop, his skipper was able to scamper through at the danger end to ensure he reached three figures.

4.33pm - Vijay fails to get Stokes away in that over. He's been on 99 from 11 balls now.

4.25pm - Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets off the mark, from his eighth ball, by cutting Plunkett for three. Murali Vijay is on strike now. He's on 99.

4.04pm - Rahane c Cook b Plunkett 32; Ind 178/4 - England have struck quickly after a break again, although it is in unlikely circumstances. Ajinkya Rahane tries to pull Liam Plunkett but gets a toe-end to the ball and it flies straight to an unsuspecting Alastair Cook, who uses his belly and then hands to hold on at silly point. It's an unfortunate exit for Rahane, although it came just three balls after he was tucked up by a Plunkett bouncer which saw him spoon up the ball in the air. Cook was caught on his heels, though, and was unable to dive far enough forward.

Afternoon Session

Highlights from the afternoon session at Trent Bridge which included a stunning catch from Ian Bell

3.42pm - TEA! Ind 177/3; Vijay 92 Rahane 32 - After those two quick wickets after lunch it was an attritional session in which India added 71 runs from 28 overs. Vijay and Rahane put together 70 of them with the former eyeing his first Test century in England.

3.22pm - Moeen's last ball of the over is swept away by Rahane for four before Vijay brings up their 50-run stand, from 122 balls, by steering Stokes to the third-man rope.

3.17pm - The time has come for Moeen Ali. He will again bowl into the breeze. With 20 minutes to go until tea you would expect he'll stay on until the break.

3.13pm - I spoke too soon. Vijay carves Plunkett away for two boundaries in three balls in the previous over and the scoreboard ticks over. Vijay is 80 in a score of 147 for three. 

3.09pm - After 18 boundaries in the first session we have had just five so far this afternoon.

3.01pm - Stokes returns, bowling down wind and his first over back costs a run. Cook is trying to rotate his bowlers as quickly as possible on this surface. No sign of the spinner as yet in this afternoon session. For now it is Plunkett going around the wicket.

2.55pm - Vijay breaks the shackles with a perfectly-timed square drive off Plunkett that races past the diving Stokes and into the rope. Six taken from the over and India are 132 for three.

2.48pm - Stokes' three-over spell does not allow a run and he has been replaced by Liam Plunkett who concedes a run from his first over. It's slow going, but needs must for England as they try and whittle out a batsman.

2.33pm - I can improve on that last stat. Eight of the 12 overs after lunch have been maidens. That is indicative of the fact the ball has started to reverse-swing and those early wickets which have forced India to be more watchful.

2.29pm - We have hit an attritional period of the game with three maidens in the past four overs. England are attempting to stem the flow of runs and provoke a mistake from the batsmen with Anderson and Ben Stokes bowling in tandem.

2.13pm - Rahane gets off the mark by driving Broad back down the wicket for four.

2.02pm - Broad finds the edge of new man Ajinkya Rahane, but the ball falls short of Bell. England suddenly have the wind in their sails.

1.54pm - Kohli c Bell b Broad 1; Ind 107/3 - A huge wicket for England and it shows in the way they celebrate it. Virat Kohli is caught fending off the back foot at a ball he need not have played at. The edge just carries to Bell at second slip. Broad wheels away arms outstretched. He's delighted.

1.47pm - Pujara c Bell b Anderson 38; Ind 106/2 - James Anderson strikes with his second ball after lunch, although a large chunk of the credit must go to Ian Bell. He claims a super catch diving to his right at a position midway down the pitch on the leg side. Alastair Cook rewarded too for an unlikely fielding position.

1.45pm - First over back after lunch and Stuart Broad found enough seam movement back in to Murali Vijay to beat his inside edge. There is some encouragement.

Morning Session

Highlights from the morning session at Trent Bridge where India reached lunch on 106 for one

1.02pm - LUNCH! Ind 106/1; Vijay 55, Pujara 38 - Anderson claimed the only wicket of the session after half-an-hour, but after that it was hard work for England's bowlers on a pitch that did not offer much. Vijay and Pujara have so far posted 73 for the second wicket and they look in the mood to add more after the break.

12.58pm - We're going to get one more over before lunch. Plunkett will bowl it down breeze.

12.44pm - India go past 100 with their 17th boundary of the morning session. Pujara has all the time in the world to wait on a widish ball from Plunkett and steer it down to the third-man rope.

12.37pm - FIFTY! Vijay (68b 11x4 0x6) - Fittingly Vijay reaches his half-century with a boundary. Arguably it's the best of the lot as he pushes Stokes through the vacent cover region. The ball before he punched the Durham man through point for another four.

12.35pm - Alastair Cook throws the ball to Moeen Ali after 22 overs. Pujara pats back his first five deliveries before a rank full-toss is heaved over midwicket and just short of the rope. That brings up the 50-run partnership from 96 balls.

12.28pm - Shot of the day. Pujara leans on a cover drive before gracefully placing it through the covers for four.

12.24pm - A brief moment of concern for Vijay as he digs down on a Stokes yorker and the ball squirts back towards his stumps. He turns around and, to his relief, has the time to get his bat down and usher the ball away from danger.

12.13pm - Vijay is looking very comfortable. He leans on a drive through mid-on off Stokes before punching a Plunkett full toss back down the ground for his ninth boundary. The ball is not moving, there are no clouds in the sky and England are going to have to work for their wickets.

12.02pm - Liam Plunkett bowls his first over, and the last before drinks, and it is a maiden. India take refreshment at 53 for one. Anderson's opening spell was 7-0-40-1.

11.51am - Ben Stokes' first over costs just a single after he replaces Broad. Anderson continues and another good over brings a false stroke from Pujara which flies through the slips and gully.

11.43am - Cheteshwar Pujara gets off the mark with a flick through midwicket for four. That was the first boundary Stuart Broad has conceded. It came from the final ball of his fifth over. India are 42 for one.

11.28am - WICKET! Dhawan c Prior b Anderson 12; Ind 33/1 - That's Anderson's 50th Test scalp at Trent Bridge. From around the wicket he tempts the left-hander into defence and the edge carries easily for Matt Prior who dives to his left to hold on.

11.20am - A probing over from Anderson highlighted by beating Vijay between bat and stumps. Despite that Vijay guided away a couple more boundaries to move to 20 from 17 balls. It's a brisk start for the tourists in bright conditions that appear set fair to favour the batsmen.

11.02am - James Anderson's first over costs 12 as Murali Vijay strikes a hat-trick of boundaries. The third was the most convincing as he stroked through midwicket.

Pre-Play News

10.42am - India XI: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.

10.37am - England XI: Alastair Cook (captain), Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Liam Plunkett, James Anderson.

10.30am - TOSS - India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni wins the toss and elects to bat.

10.15am - When India were last here they were whitewashed 4-0 in the Test series, but they have made a number of changes since then with plenty of their squad touring England for the first time. Here are our pen-pics for the tourists should you require a refresher.

9.52am - Matt Prior is just being put through his paces in front of us. He looks fairly confident and appears to be doing everything asked of him by strength and conditioning coach Huw Bevan.

9.45am - The weather here at Trent Bridge is perfect. The sky is blue and there are only a couple of clouds in the sky. It might not be the bowler-friendly conditions that James Anderson has thrived in so regularly here.

9.30am - Welcome to our live blog for the opening Test of the Investec Series against India. There's nothing quite like the start of a five-day series and, on the face of it, we have two evenly-matched teams ready to prove a point. The fact it will be over five Tests makes the upcoming couple of months even more enticing. 

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