The three-day practice game between Essex and India ended in a draw as the play on the final day was called off one and a half hours before the scheduled time due to rain, with India reaching 89 for two in 21.2 overs in their second innings on Friday.
Resuming Day Three at 237 for five, Essex went on to frustrate the Indians for 36 overs before declaring at 359 for eight, 36 short of the visitors’ effort in the first innings score of 395. The game ended rather abruptly, thanks to the first spell of rain in Chelmsford in two months.
India bowled a total of 94 overs in their innings and could still not manage to bowl out their county opponents before Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara suffered another batting failure, leaving the visitors with plenty to ponder ahead of the first Test against England which begins on August 1 at Edgbaston.
Had Dhawan and Pujara got some runs under their belt, it would have been a great morale booster, not just for them but for the entire team ahead of the first Test.
While Dhawan departed without scoring for the second time in the match, Pujara perished after scoring 23 off 35 balls.
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KL Rahul, who scored a fifty alongside skipper Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay and Hardik Pandya, was sent out to open today alongside the struggling Dhawan.
Rahul scored an unbeaten 36 off 64 balls and thereby has made a strong case for selection in the series opener. It would rather be interesting to see whether team management sticks to the left-right combination of Dhawan and Vijay or brings in Rahul at the top. Pujara is also not a certain starter and if he is overlooked, Rahul can also bat at his number three position.
However, Pujara has already insisted that he is not under any kind of pressure despite his slump in form and is confident of his place in the Test team.
Yesterday, ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had also suffered an injury because of which he did not bowl the entire day. However, the team management said that the physio has taken a look and deduced that it was only a minor injury.
Kohli—apart from the batting performance of himself, Karthik, Vijay and Rahul—would also be happy seeing the performances of pacers, especially Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, who both hit the deck hard and were amongst wickets. Also, spinners troubling the English batters on the dry wickets would also serve as a happy headache for Kohli going into the first Test.
Squads for first Test
India: Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
England: Joe Root(c), Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, James Porter