KL Rahul hits classy century as India dominate England on opening day of Lord's Test
KL Rahul (127no) shares in century stands with Rohit Sharma (83) and Virat Kohli (42); James Anderson's (2-52) double-strike shortly before tea sparks hopes of an England fightback; Ollie Robinson (1-47) picks up Kohli late in the day as India close on 276-3
By David Currie at Lord's
Last Updated: 13/08/21 6:00am
KL Rahul struck a magnificent 127no as India dominated the opening day of the second Test at Lord's, despite James Anderson's best efforts to spark an England fightback.
Anderson (2-52), who had been a doubt to play on the morning of the game, dismissed Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara in a superb six-over spell prior to tea that promised so much more.
But Rahul and Virat Kohli (42) returned after the interval with the sun shining and vastly-improved conditions for batting, and put on 117 for the third wicket before Ollie Robinson (1-47) picked up the India captain, edging to first slip, late in the day.
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Earlier, openers Rahul and Rohit (83) produced a masterclass of top-order batting against some skilful England bowling, and in helpful, overcast conditions that had been key in persuading Joe Root to bowl first at the toss.
The pair shared in a 126-run stand which showcased an impressive combination of technique, patience and good judgement - that is until Rohit was finally deceived by Anderson.
Beaten on his outside edge by one that nipped away from the right-hander the ball before, Rohit was then undone by a beauty which moved in late to bowl him through the gate.
With his tail up, Anderson picked up Pujara (9) cheaply soon after but, in the final throes of the afternoon session, Kohli - who the fast bowler had dismissed for a golden duck in the first Test - was wisely shielded from the strike, and he and Rahul built upon India's strong foundations in the evening before Robinson's late strike with the second new ball.
Rain had twice delayed the start of play at the 'Home of Cricket', while an early lunch too was called when the heavens opened again to interrupt a sedate opening session - one in which England will have been aggrieved to finish wicketless.
India's openers, ever watchful, added only 11 runs from the opening 10 overs, while their first boundary of the day did not arrive until the 13th. It prompted a flurry, as Rohit would fire four fours from Sam Curran's next over.
Rohit would assume the role of the dominant partner, hooking Mark Wood for six and charging the 93mph bowler in flat-batting a four away after the lunch break as he suddenly raced through to an 83-ball fifty.
Rahul, in contrast, continued to be circumspect, contributing just 16 to their century-opening stand, but gradually began to break off the shackles as his first boundary arrived in the 41st over with a sumptuous straight six when skipping down the pitch to Moeen Ali.
England, in desperate need of a breakthrough, found one via a familiar source in Anderson, who used the Lord's slope from the Pavilion End to devastating effect as he got one to jag back in late to finally beat Rohit's defences.
A rusty Pujara was then fortunate to last as long as the 23 deliveries he did, with Anderson first having an lbw shout to him on 0 turned down - England wasting a review - before then finding his outside edge on two, only for the ball to squirt through a gap in the slips.
England had three catchers in place, but with Rory Burns operating at a wide fourth-slip position. They learned their lesson, as when Pujara poked at another just before tea, Jonny Bairstow was there this time to snaffle up the chance at third.
The Lord's crowd wanted Anderson vs Kohli. But Pujara's wicket had come with the last ball of the over, and Rahul then intelligently hogged the strike through to the interval - passing fifty in the process.
By the time he finally got his chance against the India skipper, the crowd had been subdued, Kohli had his eye in somewhat and the 'battle' lasted all of two balls as Anderson's sublime nine-over spell came to an end.
Rahul and Kohli then cashed in as conditions for batting vastly improved in the evening session, with the former bringing up a richly-deserved sixth Test ton as he cut his 212th delivery - a short, wide long-hop from Wood - away to the third man boundary.
The second new ball did bring about a much-needed breakthrough, but it was Robinson this time the provider as Kohli snicked off to Root. Anderson had found his outside edge in the previous over, but it fell short of the awaiting slip cordon.
No further wickets were forthcoming before the close, although there was time for England to lose a second review on a Robinson lbw shout to Ajinkya Rahane that was sliding down leg.
Watch day two of the second Test between England and India at Lord's from 10.15am, Friday on Sky Sports The Hundred and Main Event.