No cricketer would ever agree that there is a bad moment to score a century but Abhinav Mukund may come to reflect that the one he made here yesterday was a classic of inopportunism.
With Virender Sehwag belatedly available after shoulder surgery, and Gautam Gambhir recovered from the elbow injury that ruled him out of the second Test, the 21-year-old left-hander's fate, in terms of opening in the third Test, was almost certainly sealed anyway, particularly after he came so close – a dropped catch away, in fact – to being out first ball twice at Trent Bridge.
It is probably of little consequence, either, that neither Sehwag nor Gambhir enjoyed the time in the middle that was required on day one of this curious fixture, ostensibly two innings a side but to be played over two days with a maximum 180 overs.
Northamptonshire rested key players and the new ball was shared by two bowlers who have played no part in their Second Division promotion bid. Yet, with the ball swinging and seaming in the morning, Sehwag lasted only 30 minutes and had made only five when Dave Burton, a right-arm seamer who has played five first-class matches for three counties but only one in the past two seasons, brought one back to trap him on the crease.
His dismissal was a disappointment for a large crowd dominated by Indian supporters but also for a fair few home fans who had been denied seeing Sehwag last year, when the Indian Board blocked his appearance in the home Twenty20 side.
Gambhir hung around an hour longer only to depart in similar circumstances, this time against the left-arm seamer David Willey.
VVS Laxman, after a streaky start, was much more fluent until he holed out to square leg for 49, but there was no stopping Mukund, who played with unexpected freedom and earned himself the odd bit of luck. Indeed, after hitting 18 fours in his 113, he retired at tea, apparently stricken with cramp.
If Mukund is to have a chance of retaining his place, the only – slim – hope is that India prefer him to Suresh Raina, who had an uncomfortable match at Trent Bridge. Raina's 33 here was a modest effort, yet it was 32 runs better than MS Dhoni, whose run of poor scores continued when he nicked Luke Evans to wicketkeeper David Murphy as the 6ft 7in right-armer earned some reward after a luckless spell with the new ball. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra finished unbeaten on 48, but by then the crowd had largely dispersed.