There’s something about Trent Bridge and tenth-wicket partnerships. On Thursday 11 July 2013, Phillip Hughes and Ashton Agar thwarted the English attack with a century stand for the final wicket. Today, almost a year later to the day, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami added 111 to push India on to 457 all out, aided earlier in the day by 146 from Murali Vijay and 82 from talismanic captain MS Dhoni.
The morning session continued the first day’s war of attrition between bat and ball, Stuart Broad bowling as miserly as ever to restrict the run rate. He didn’t, however, get the early wicket he deserved after a drop from Matt Prior diving across slip denied him MS Dhoni’s scalp.
Murali Vijay continued, unhurried, in Trent Bridge’s picturesque surroundings. A square drive for four off Ben Stokes just before drinks provided a reminder of his quality, despite the languid pace of the morning.
Finely poised on 146, James Anderson finally provided the decisive blow, catching the opening batsman on the back foot and tidily trapping him LBW. On closer inspection, television replays showed the ball picking up and travelling over the stumps, but with no DRS in this series, Vijay wasn’t offered a reprieve.
The session yielded 83 runs for that one wicket, but a reinvigorated England and Ben Stokes took to the field after lunch. First the Durham man finds Ravindra Jadeja’s edge, comfortably pouched by Matt Prior. Two balls later Dhoni followed, attempting a single that looked forever out of reach. A direct hit from the swooping James Anderson accounted for the India captain, bringing together debutant Stuart Binny and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Sensing blood, Stokes continued and provided further impetus to England. Binny’s debut innings won’t trouble the history books, his attempted cut not troubling the grateful Joe Root at point either.
Momentum also carried Stuart Broad straight through Ishant Sharma too, the new man shouldering arms to a ball that flattened his off-stump. At 346-9, the pendulum was slowly swinging back in favour of the hosts.
With the tail well and truly exposed, and England’s bowlers applying themselves, Kumar and number eleven Mohammed Shami set about defying the odds. First their partnership reached a visibly frustrating 50. Then the total passed 400, and India’s highest 11th wicket partnership against England, ending an extended session on 433-9.
After tea, Kumar took a single to reach his maiden test 50, before his number 11 disdainfully launched a six to reach the same milestone. A 100 partnership for the final wicket, again. Where Ashton Agar’s antics a year earlier inspired the Trent Bridge crowd to will him on toward a century, this time the eventual wicket brought sighs of relief. Moeen Ali combined with Joe Root to see off Kumar, the stand eventually worth 111.
Of all the talk of an excellent batting deck offering little to the bowlers, Alastair Cook will have eyed this as his first steps to redemption.
However, those moments have a tendency to come back and kick you. Looking to flick Mohammed Shami off his pads, the ball kept a little low, nicked the beleaguered captain’s thigh pad and dragged back onto his stumps. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break.
Sam Robson and Gary Ballance saw England through to the close, but even then it wasn’t plain sailing. Ishant Sharma provided a couple of problems, twice finding an edge which didn’t quite carry through to the slips, before appealing a catch behind with the day’s final ball.
At 43-1, Robson and Ballance will eye lengthy stays at the crease, especially after seeing the tail-end exploits earlier in the day. An extra hour in the middle, with India’s total reduced by 100, the picture could have been very different.