Leicester: The Indian top-order batsmen got some much-needed batting practice against a below-par Leicestershire attack as they finished the first day of their opening tour match at a comfortable 333 for four, on Thursday.
As many as three batsmen went on to complete their half-centuries, with comeback man Gautam Gambhir’s 54 being one of the notable contributions.
Shikhar Dhawan (60 retired), Cheteshwar Pujara (57 retired) were also among runs as opener Murali Vijay (20) and batting mainstay Virat Kohli (29) were the ones to miss out on a scoring opportunity.
Rohit Sharma (43) entertained the India supporters with some classy strokes, including the first six of the match, while Ajinkya Rahane also did his cause no harm by notching up a well-compiled unbeaten 47 as the duo added 74 runs in 20 overs.
The emphasis was on quality batting time. It seemed that each and every top-order batsmen was earmarked 100-odd deliveries and a chance to at least get to the 50-run mark.
Dhawan faced 100 balls and hit 12 fours while Gambhir had seven hits to the fence during his 101-ball knock.
Pujara consumed 98 deliveries hitting eight fours in the process. All these players retired after reaching their individual half-centuries, although Dhawan was hit in the right forearm by a rising delivery from seamer Atif Sheikh.
While the physio came out and Dhawan retired hurt, it appeared more to be a precautionary measure ahead of the Test series.
Rohit has so far played 62 balls, hitting five fours and a big six off tweaker Rob Sayer, while Rahane hit seven crisp boundaries in his 77-ball innings.
The Leicestershire attack, which is languishing at the bottom of the county table, can at best be termed mediocre as none of the Indian batsmen were in any sort of trouble, quietly going along with their batting practice.
Making a comeback to the Indian team after a long time, Gambhir was watchful in his approach and was looking to grind even against a simple attack, trying to stay at the crease as long as possible.
His approach worked as he brought up his 50 off 95 balls, and then retired out after scoring 54 runs. He hit seven fours.
Kohli and Pujara added 49 runs for the third wicket before the umpires called for tea. India added 108 runs in the 30 overs bowled in the second session as the 200-run mark came up in the 55th over.
Earlier, Dhawan opened the innings with Vijay and the duo put on 46 runs for the first wicket. The latter took his time in the middle, facing 51 deliveries in all, trying to play with a straight bat.
He scored 20 runs and hit three boundaries, before he was out caught by Angus Robson at gully off Anthony Ireland (1/23) while going for a drive.
Gambhir walked in at No.3, bringing up the team 50 in the 17th over, and along with Dhawan increased the pace of scoring.