Can India’s remoulded batting line-up flourish during Tests in England with esteemed names such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid having departed since the last attempt?
On the first day of this summer’s tour, against a weak Leicestershire attack, their successors showed the necessary intent to do so – as they aim to avoid a repeat of the 4-0 humiliation of three years ago – in preparation for facing an England team at a low ebb.
India’s only moment of concern arrived when Shikhar Dhawan, a dashing left-hander who was instrumental in last year’s Champions Trophy glory in England, suffered a painful blow to his right arm.
It came from the first genuinely threatening short delivery at Dhawan, who played fluently for 60. He was attended to by the physio and immediately retired hurt.
The short ball and the moving ball will again be major challenges for India in England. The good news for them is that Dhawan is not expected to miss any games. “There are no concerns,” an India team spokesman said.
Gautam Gambhir and Cheteshwar Pujara also scored half-centuries – but they retired of their own accord to give others time at the crease. The experienced Gambhir is under some pressure to keep his place in the Test team, but he ground out valuable runs, while Pujara was more positive and looked classy.
Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma eased to unbeaten scores in the 40s by the close.
India had decided to bat first, having won the toss. With the chance to utilise their whole squad over the course of this match, rather than being restricted to 11 players, they fielded seven specialist batsmen in their line-up and also their two wicketkeepers and two all-rounders.
With Indian flags fluttering in the background, and the occasional beat of drums from their support in the stands, they were quickly made to feel at home. Leicester was a welcoming venue for them, but maybe not the best place to prepare considering the county’s struggles.
The last thing Leicestershire needed was to miss an early chance, but in the first over Dhawan edged Anthony Ireland through the slips. Dhawan and Murali Vijay enjoyed a relatively comfortable opening stand, though.
Angus Robson ended it with a catch at gully when Vijay, on 20, miscued a drive off Ireland. Robson’s family, including England opener brother Sam, were in the crowd.
The only other moment of joy for Leicestershire’s bowlers came when Virat Kohli perished following a loose shot, bowled between bat and pad by Shiv Thakor on 29.
But it was a comfortable start to the tour for new-look India’s batsmen. An interesting test awaits their bowlers in the coming days, though.
ICC head blocks doubts: 'There's no taint on me'
On the day his appointment as ICC chairman was ratified, the former Indian Board president Narayanaswami Srinivasan protested his innocence in a spot-fixing investigation at home.
The owner of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, whose son-in-law has been charged, said: “I have done nothing wrong and therefore my conscience is very clear that there is no taint on me. My son-in-law, there are some charges against him. He has to defend himself in court.”