Nottingham, United Kingdom – Murali Vijay was eyeing a hundred after England rocked India with two quick wickets following lunch on the first day of the first Test at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
At tea, India were 177 for three, with opener Vijay 92 not out and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 32 in a fourth-wicket stand so far worth 70.
The duo came together after India lost Cheteshwar Pujara (38) and Virat Kohli (one) as England took two wickets for one run in 10 balls.
For a while runs dried up, with seamer Stuart Broad (13-6-19-1) leading the way on his Nottinghamshire home ground, as India added just 18 in the first 14 overs after lunch.
But, with England captain Alastair Cook unwilling to give much of the bowling to part-time off-spinner Moeen Ali, Vijay moved to within sight of only his fourth Test century and first against England.
Earlier, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and it was no surprise when, on a sunny day, he decided to bat first.
Vijay was into his stride right from the first over of the match, which saw England spearhead James Anderson concede 12 runs as the opener struck him for three fours in as many balls.
But Anderson, who has taken more Test wickets at Trent Bridge than any other bowler, did claim his 50th scalp on the ground when he found Shikhar Dhawan's outside edge and wicketkeeper Matt Prior, showing no sign of the thigh injury that had made him doubtful for this match, took an excellent diving left-handed catch in front of Cook at first slip.
Such was Vijay's touch, on a beautiful batting pitch allied to a fast-running outfield that might have been tailor-made for India, his fifty featured 44 runs in boundaries.
He reached the landmark with his 11th four, a superbly-timed cover-drive off recalled all-rounder Ben Stokes.
At lunch, with Cook having used all five of his frontline bowlers, India were 106 for one with Vijay 55 not out and Pujara 38 not out.
But soon afterwards India lost two wickets for one run after Anderson and new-ball partner Broad changed ends.
India hadn't added to their lunch score when Pujara fell to a well-set trap when he chipped an Anderson delivery from the Pavilion End that 'stopped' on him to the rarely deployed position of silly mid-on, where Ian Bell took a superb one-handed catch diving to his right.
Pujara's dismissal was also something of a tactical triumph for Cook, much criticised for his leadership in the field at Headingley.
And 106 for two became 107 for three when rising star Kohli carelessly opened the face against a Broad delivery from the Radcliffe Road End he didn't have to play and all but guided the ball low to Bell, now at second slip.
Vijay though elegantly clipped Anderson off his pads for four to end a sequence of 16 balls without scoring while Rahane got off the mark with four down the ground off Broad.
But with England gaining a measure of reverse swing, India found runs hard to come by for a while.
However, Vijay made the most of any opportunities he was given by England's seam quartet, late-cutting recalled all-rounder Ben Stokes for two fours in four balls to go to 89. – Sapa-AFP