Abhinav soars for India
India opener Abhinav Mukund sent a clear message to Virender Sehwag that he will not be giving away his place in the Test team without a fight with a brilliant century in their tour match with Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
Abhinav, who scored just 64 runs in the opening two npower Tests against England, hit a superb 113 off 160 balls, including 18 fours, before retiring during tea.
The tourists closed the first day of this two-day encounter on 327 for seven.
In contrast, Sehwag made just eight in his first match for two months on his return from shoulder surgery and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s troubles continued as he perished for just two.
India won the toss and chose to bat, giving their captain for this match, Gautam Gambhir, and Sehwag an immediate chance to play themselves back into form after injury.
But Sehwag was trapped lbw in the seventh over by David Burton, making his first appearance in the first XI this season.
Gambhir made it to 18 before departing in the same manner to David Willey as the tourists reached lunch on 87 for two.
Abhinav, who scored just three runs in two innings at Trent Bridge in the second Test, then reached 50 off 82 balls with a clipped two into midwicket off Burton in the third over of the afternoon.
VVS Laxman was to fall one short of his half-century when he pulled Lee Daggett straight to Rob Newton at square-leg to break a third-wicket stand of 132.
But Abhinav continued to be aggressive and he completed a superb hundred off 138 deliveries – his 14th ton in first-class cricket.
Wicketkeeper and regular captain Dhoni came out to replace Abhinav in the evening session as he searched for some much-needed runs.
But he was soon on his way back to the pavilion in the fourth over after the restart when he edged Luke Evans to wicketkeeper David Murphy.
Evans had another victim in his next over when Suresh Raina departed for 33 by nudging his short delivery to give Murphy an easy catch.
Wriddhiman Saha was then needlessly run out for 15 after a mix-up with Amit Mishra, giving Rob White the simple task of jogging in from mid-on and taking off the bails.
Zaheer Khan, another returning from injury, went for 12 when slicing Paul Best high to White at mid-off.
Two runs from Sreesanth off Best took India past 300 - a total they have yet to make against England. He finished unbeaten on 15, with Mishra 48 not out at the close.