In process of getting some practice before all important Test series against England, India’s trail began with a 3-Day Tour game with Leicestershire in which on the first day, all the expected bastmen in the final XI got some practice with three of them scoring half centuries and other two ending up short of the mark with innings restricted to only one day.
Team India arrived at Grace Road, the ground they are pretty familiar by now, having practiced there for four days with getting some warm welcome from the group of spectators came to watch game with majority of them in Indian Blue and cheering for Team India with the traditional dhol beats which made the visitors probably felt more playing at home than the local boys of Leicestershire
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat, joking India will be “fielding their usual 14”.
Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan got India off to a cautious start after Shikhar been dropped in the slips in the first over, off Anthony Ireland. As the two settled down, they left the ball well outside the off stump, looked more to be at the crease and negotiated the slight swing without any hesitation.
The openers put on 46 in 15 overs, immediately after which Vijay nicked one to gully to give Leicestershire and Ireland their first wicket. Gautam Gambhir walked in at No. 3 for India with some enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
While Gambhir played himself in with a few nudges and pushes, Shikhar played some exquisite drives and cuts. The senior of the left-handers joined the show soon with a cracking square drive to fetch his first boundary. Soon brought up a gorgeous punch through the covers. Shikhar got into his elements with a flurry of cover drives and cuts, and brought his half-century in 79 balls.
Soon after lunch, a sharp short ball from Atif Sheikh struck Dhawan on his right arm. In what was more a precautionary step, the physio took Shikhar off the field, retired hurt.
Gambhir and Pujara were tested too by Sheikh’s sharp bounce and pace but done well to neglect him and form a 49-run stand off 70 balls.
Gambhir, soon after bringing up his fifty, retired for 54 off 101 balls. It was a typical knock one would associate with the left-hander.
Virat Kohli joined Pujara after Gambhir’s departure and the duo looked very comfortable in the middle. Virat was bowled through the defence by Shiv Thakor for 29 soon after Tea.
In the last session the sun made way for a light covering of clouds and the temperature dropped considerably. The ball started to move a little more as Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane handled it with patience. Unbeaten at Tea on 37, Pujara completed his half-century in the 70th over of the day, and just like Gambhir, retired out soon after, for 57 (98 balls).
Rohit Sharma came in with an attacking mindset to produce a loud cheer from the spectators when he lofted off-spinner James Sykes for the first six of the innings. A few more fours smashing through midwicket, one guiding past point and a languid drive through the covers which made the crowd was chant Rohit’s name.
The Indians declared their innings after the alloted 90 overs on the day with the score at 333 for 4 (Gambhir and Pujara retired).
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