FRUSTRATED England were left cursing their luck after India recovered admirably to double their total for the loss of only two wickets despite abundant seam and swing movement at Lord’s.
Ajinkya Rahane (103) shut out the hosts, in a stand of 90 with number nine Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as India turned 145 for seven into 290 for nine despite James Anderson’s figures of four for 55.
Ben Stokes, who contributed just one wicket but a big one in the shape of the dogged and skilful Cheteshwar Pujara, gave Rahane due credit but bemoaned England’s misfortune too.
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After Alastair Cook won the toss, England could take only two wickets before lunch.
Then by tea, it seemed they were sure to hustle through the tourists on day one of this second Investec Test - only for Rahane, in particular, to prove otherwise.
“I think there’s a bit of frustration, especially the last session there - the tail hanging around with Rahane,” said Stokes.
“But you’ve got to give credit to him, the way he played - it was a really good knock.”
Stokes felt unable to dwell on the topic of Anderson’s potential disciplinary troubles, as a Level 3 charge hangs over England’s premier pace bowler following his fracas with Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test at Nottingham.
Instead, he spoke of the encouragement England could derive from putting their opponents under pressure before the Rahane-led revival.
“We had them for 140 for seven - so taking that away from today, we keep knocking their top order over,” he said.
“Kumar seemed to hang around, with a lot of plays-and-misses and nicks through the slips.
“When it’s been a long, tough day that can really get to you.”
Stokes believes England could easily have made swifter progress, perhaps with better bowling initially but certainly better fortune.
“I think we were extremely unlucky, “ he said. “With edges flying over the slips, balls hitting the gloves and going over the top.”
As for the cloud hanging over Anderson - he could be banned for up to four matches if found guilty at Level 3 under the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct - Stokes added only: “Everything is concentrated on the cricket. We try to leave anything off the pitch off it.
“We try to be as professional as we can.”
Rahane had no such distractions, but admitted he found things far from easy nonetheless.
“Every hundred is special, be it at Wellington or at Lord’s - but yes, it is special to do this at Lord’s,” he said.
“I also want to thank the top order - (Murali) Vijay, Pujara, (Virat) Kohli and Shikhar (Dhawan).
“They all played through a crucial phase - and watching them bat, I gained confidence.”
He senses India have a competitive first-innings total on the board.
“It was challenging, a completely different wicket (to Trent Bridge), we did well,” he added.
“Till the end, the ball was doing something. It was good to get this hundred on this pitch.
“It will suit our bowlers as well. It is going to be difficult for the England batsmen.”
Stokes conceded luck was on his side for once for the wicket of Pujara, with a ball which jagged up the slope between bat and pad.
“It was meant to swing away - maybe some luck for hard work,” he said.
“We were pretty happy with our lengths (before lunch). If anything, it was our lines, we said we could probably come a little bit tighter to the stumps.”