Essex 237 for 5 (Pepper 68, Westley 57, Umesh 2-23, Ishant 2-38) trail India 395 (Karthik 82, Kohli 68, Walter 4-113, Coles 2-31) by 158 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A flat wicket, another scorching day with “abnormal” temperatures, and some stodgy batting from Essex made India’s bowlers work hard on the second day of their warm-up match in Chelmsford. India wouldn’t mind a day like this today rather than in the middle of a Test match, their fast bowlers having been put through a good test of both character and skills.
Thursday was hot, with temperatures hovering around the mid-30 degrees centigrade, which the MCC called “abnormally high”, and led to them relaxing the imposition on members to wear jackets in the Pavilion. Having experienced much higher mercury back home, the Indians did not wilt easily.
Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma were the pick of the five-man pace contingent, which also had Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya. Umesh bowled his first spell form the Hayes’ End and attacked the bat relentlessly. He got the ball to swing and seam away consistently, and trapped Nick Browne with a ball that skidded into the pads.
No other fast bowler in this Indian line-up has more overs clocked over the past few months than Umesh. Little wonder that he hardly took a ball to catch his rhythm. A first spell of 7-4-9-1 showed both his accuracy and steadfastness to stick to the plan.
Ishant came in after the first hour in the afternoon. His first ball, fuller in length, seamed straight away into the other Essex opener, Varun Chopra, who was beaten by pace and movement. Chopra tried to slog the next ball and was lucky not to be bowled, getting a bottom edge that raced to fine leg. Having played for Sussex recently in the county championships, Ishant understood the lengths that work on England pitches.
Off the first ball of his second over, Ishant opened up Chopra, who shuffled across to his off stump but was beaten by the delivery moving in to hit his pads. Ishant appealed strongly and the umpire raised his finger promptly. Chopra might have felt a little hard done by as the ball might have moved down leg.
No such luck was in store for Shami, returning to the Indian fold after the South Africa tour. The team management was concerned about Shami’s readiness, considering he had not played much cricket in the last six months. He was injured during the IPL and failed a fitness test that ruled him out of the one-off Test against Afghanistan. He was also entangled in domestic issues as he faced various allegations from his wife.
Still, Shami would be optimistic. He struggled with the right length and line with the new ball and gave away 26 runs in his first spell of 7 overs. However, when he returned late afternoon, he could reverse the ball while maintaining a fuller length. Also scratchy was Hardik Pandya, who gave a lot of width and room for the batsmen to take advantage of.
There were only two overs of spin from the Indians, both by Ravindra Jadeja, who retreated to the dressing room around tea time and never came back. R Ashwin was hit on the index finger of the bowling hand while batting in the morning and did not take the field through the day. The team management confirmed that it was just a precautionary step. Ashwin did bowl in the nets during the lunch break.
That explained why Ashwin had not come out to bat in the morning even as India tried all the available specialist batsmen, most of whom fumbled barring Rishabh Pant. Karun Nair, despite having played for over the past month in England while touring with the India A team, attempted a drive far from his body only to see a bottom edge roll on to knock off the bails.
Pandya’s overnight struggles continued before he hit straight to cover, which exposed his impatience in addition to a false stroke. Dinesh Karthik, 18 short of a century overnight, was the first to depart, playing an upper cut into hands of deep point.