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Bharat's 70* steadies Indians after early wobble

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Published in Cricket
Thursday, 23 June 2022 09:20

Indians 246 for 8 (Bharat 70*, Kohli 33, Walker 5-24, Davis 2-64) vs Leicestershire

Jasprit Bumrah bowled to Virat Kohli, Prasidh Krishna got the wicket of Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant caught Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara chased after Rohit Sharma's drives, but it was a player yet to play first-class cricket for Leicestershire who stole the show on day one of the Indians' warm-up match. Roman Walker, the 21-year-old right-arm seam bowler who moved from Glamorgan to Leicestershire first on loan last year and then signed with them this year, took the wickets of Rohit, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja while achieving figures of 5 for 24.

India found a way to give almost all of their players game-time in the only practice match available to them by having four of them play for Leicestershire. It robbed the match of first-class status, but gave their batters a thorough working-over, reducing them to 81 for 5 on a day when Bumrah didn't even get into his work properly. Prasidh was menacing in partnership with Walker during the second hour of the match, during which the ball nipped around more than in the first.

However, a few previously-seen scripts might worry India a little. Rohit once again got out on the hook, Gill and Iyer edged while playing away from their bodies, Kohli's outside edge looked suspect before he was beaten on the inside edge, and Hanuma Vihari got stuck and didn't look like he had scoring options, before reserve wicketkeeper KS Bharat top-scored for them in a lower-order revival to take them to 246 for 8 at stumps.

It will please them that Bumrah got overs under his belt, Prasidh presented himself as an option for the Test XI, extracting both seam and bounce, and the batters, including Pant in the middle session, spent time in the nets.

Rohit began the day with the watchfulness that was the bedrock of his success in the four Tests last year, but the short ball - which he scores heavily off - continued to get him out. This time he hooked Walker straight up to be caught at midwicket. Before that, Gill got off to a flashy start before playing a defensive shot to a wide, bouncing delivery.

This was around the time when, after a 35-run opening stand, the ball began to do things. Vihari, in an audition for the No. 3 role, had defended for 22 balls for three runs when he got a half-volley but his stuck feet meant he couldn't cover the swing and he edged to slip. Iyer bagged an 11-ball duck, playing a loose drive well away from the body against a red-hot Prasidh, who troubled both him and Kohli.

Jadeja was caught on the crease to an inswinger, trapped right in front. Shardul Thakur, known for his attacking play, will be annoyed that he was bowled shouldering arms.

Kohli got through an uneasy initial period, playing a square drive, a trademark extra-cover drive and hooking Prasidh for six, but he was far from his best during his innings of 33. At one point it looked like he had edged straight to third slip, but the umpires ruled it a bump ball. Equally confounding was his eventual dismissal. He was given out lbw to a full ball, but it seemed the ball might have missed off stump and in fact might even have taken his edge to the keeper. Kohli looked in disbelief for a second when given out, but had to walk off. It was only later confirmed that he was given out lbw.

As the pitch began to ease out, Bharat made the most of it with impressive stroke-play. He found support from Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami in stands of 66 and 32, and ended the day unbeaten on 70 when rain forced an early end. Bharat and the lower order ruined the figures of Prasidh and Walker, which had at one time read 5.1-2-9-1 and 8.1-4-13-5 respectively.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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