Dubai: Srikar Bharat scored an unbeaten half-century and added a useful partnership with star batter Virat Kohli to rescue India from trouble and guide the visitors to 246 for eight on a rain-interrupted first day of the tour game against Leicestershire on Thursday.
Despite a number of Indian bowlers playing in the rival ranks, 21-year-old Leicester pacer Roman Walker troubled the Indians most with a five-wicket haul that included prize scalps of skipper Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja.
After a cautious start, India lost wickets at regular intervals after Rohit and Shubman Gill failed to convert their starts into a big score and were dismissed for 25 and 21 respectively. From 35 no loss, India lost five wickets for the addition of just 46 runs with Kohli watching the proceedings from the other end.
Not losing the momentum
The star batter, who was in a miserable form during the recently concluded Indian Premier League, had to take a break from the Twenty20 Series against South Africa. The time away from the game seemed to have helped him to get back his rhythm as he scored 33 with four fours and a six and more importantly forged a 57-run partnership with his erstwhile Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate Bharat.
After Kohli’s exit, Bharat, the reserve wicketkeeper playing his first game in Indian colours, ensured that India did not lose the momentum with an unbeaten 70 to thwart the Leicester attack that had the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Bharat also put on a 66-run partnership with Umesh Yadav to give the visitors a fighting total in the four-day game.
Kohli proclaimed that he is ready for the tour by sharing picture of his training session on Tuesday.
“Practice well. Stay happy,” Kohli captioned the post on the Koo app.
Responding to the special prematch arrangement between the Indian board, ECB and Leicestershire County Cricket Club where four Indians played for the hosts in the 13-a-side match, Leicester officials were elated to have some members of the Indian team in their ranks.
“Leicestershire CCC will welcome members from the India touring party into their side for tomorrow’s four-day tour match at Uptonsteel County Ground. India superstars Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna will all team up with the Leicestershire squad, captained by opening batsman Sam Evans. LCCC, BCCI and the ECB have all agreed to allow the four players from the visiting camp to be part of the Running Foxes side, in order to allow all members of the travelling party to participate in the fixture (subject to fitness),” the LCCC said in a statement.
Apart from Evans, Pujara, Pant, Bumrah and Prasidh, the other players in the LCCC are — Rehan Ahmed, Sam Bates (wicketkeeper), Nat Bowley, Will Davis, Joey Evison, Louis Kimber, Abi Sakande and Walker.
This will be the lone tour match for the Indian team before the July 1-5 Edgbaston Test against England, which is the postponed fifth game of the series of last year. India lead the series 2-1.