India decided to test all its options in the opening day of the tour match against Northamptonshire on Friday. Some paid rich dividends while others failed to do so as MS Dhoni's team ended the day on 327/7.
While the batting display going by the score at the stumps would heal many a broken Indian hearts, especially after the disastrous Test at Trent Bridge in which the Indians collapsed for under 160 in the second innings, the much talked-about return of two openers ended fairly un-dramatically. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir returned to the side after recovering from their respective injuries but could only muster up a partnership of 15.
Sehwag looked to take the bowling on when he hit a boundary early on but added only four more before he was removed by Dave Burton. Gambhir held his ground but was eventually removed too, on a personal score of 18, his legs caught before the wicket.
A familiar script after losing the two opening Tests against England, threatened to haunt the visitors but Abhinav Mukund decided to make this, his big day. He stitched together a 132-run partnership with VVS Laxman (49) to bail his team out of murky waters.
Mukund slammed 18 boundaries and eventually completed a well-deserved century to put India in a strong position. He was helped, once Laxman departed, by Suresh Raina's innings of 33 but skipper MS Dhoni could only last for 13 deliveries, once he came to the middle.
That Mukund had to eventually retire hurt also did not help India's cause, up until Amit Mishra came out with his willow. 5 boundaries and 48 runs later, Mishra became for India what Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan had become for England in the 2nd Test. He was unbeaten at the end of the day's play and will have the company of S Sreesanth (15*) when play resumes on Saturday.