Photo Credit: AFP Photos.
Who said Indian bowlers won't do well in England! They got off to a fantastic start to the England tour on Thursday, what if with the bat. England openers Alastair Cook and Sam Robson were probably planning their innings when, after losing 4 wickets for 2 runs following lunch, Indian bowlers Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar made them wait, wait and wait.
An unexpected 10th-wicket partnership first turned promising, then encouraging and could now prove decisive in the context of the match.
Bhuvneshwar and Shami erected a mountain of 111 runs in 38.1 overs, frustrating the hell out of English bowlers who tried everything - from bowling to sledging - but couldn't separate the pacemen until they took India's score from 346 for 9 to a formidable 457.
The partnership, India's second best overall for the 10th wicket and the best against England, changed the face of the match - in that England will now look to match India's total, whereas at one stage they would have nurtured hopes of taking a decent first innings lead.
Instead, the staggering effort may now enable India to take a first-innings lead if Shami and Bhuvneshwar follow their batting heroics with the ball in hand.
The dogged effort was perhaps also a lesson for other Indian tailenders, including the 55-Test capper Ishant Sharma who scored just 1 before being bowled by Stuart Broad shouldering arms.
The tailenders need to put a price to their wicket, which is exactly what Bhuvneshwar and Shami did on Thursday. There's are few better ways to dent the psyche of an opposition than to keep them on the ground while they want to get out of it as quickly as possible.
In numbers, Bhuvneshwar scored 58 in 149 balls, including 5 fours, and Shami made 51 not out in 81 balls with 6 fours and a six. But it's their effort and resilience that must have lifted Indian spirits to go all out for their first Test win overseas in three years.