Bresnan hundred frustrates Indians
England Lions 379 for 8 (Bresnan 116*, Denly 83, Broad 50) v Indians
An unbeaten century from Tim Bresnan, his second in first-class cricket, and a 129-run partnership with Stuart Broad for the eighth wicket, allowed England Lions to gain the upper hand at the end of the first day against the touring Indians at Chelmsford. The Indian bowlers, led by the experienced Zaheer Khan, made an impact in the second session but Joe Denly's aggressive 83 at the start, as well as the Bresnan-Broad union, overshadowed that effort.
Barring a brief 20 overs under the mid-afternoon sun, the bowlers struggled on a benign surface. Andrew Strauss, who won a good toss, failed to capitalise on the good batting conditions, as did Owais Shah but a trio of batsmen with contrasting styles - Denly, Bresnan and Broad - made India pay. A middle-order collapse raised visions of an fightback but three dropped catches, allied with the Indians' inability to polish off the tail, returned to haunt them.
The Lions dominated at the start of the day, suffered a blip in the middle before solidifying their position towards the end. Denly, the 21-year-old opener who has been in red-hot form for Kent, began as if this was a one-dayer, clattering Zaheer for as many as five fours in an over, racing to 43 in just 29 balls. Bresnan, the 22-year-old allrounder from Yorkshire, was relatively more compact in his style and showed how well he could bat with the tail, guiding them from a modest 225 for 7 to a healthy 379 for 8 at close.
Bresnan has chipped in with the bat with some handy contributions this season, helping Yorkshire to the top of the County Championship table. He walked in at 185 for 6, with Zaheer and Ramesh Powar turning in a fine spell in tandem, but survived the early moments confidently. Ravinder Bopara fell soon, at the stroke of tea, but Broad provided him good company after the interval. Broad enjoyed large dollops of good fortune - Wasim Jaffer grassed a tough chance at short leg before MS Dhoni and Ramesh Powar fluffed a sitter apiece. It allowed Broad to get into his groove before opening up with some handsome lofts over the infield.
But it was Denly who was the most confident batsmen on view. He was particularly severe on Zaheer's full-pitched deliveries early on and it was only when the length changed that he was in any trouble. He brought up his fifty with a crisp crack through midwicket and went to lunch set for a big one. However he couldn't resist the temptation to charge down the track to a flighted offbreak from Powar, left a big gap between bat and pad and watched MS Dhoni pull off a neat stumping.
His dismissal fired up the Indians, especially Zaheer, in what was their most successful passage of play. Zaheer cranked up his pace and mixed up his length well, occasionally slipping in a well-directed bouncer, and didn't flag at any point. Jonathan Trott, who reached 40 without much problem, was suddenly rattled and fell to a half-hearted drive away from his body.
Tim Ambrose followed soon, undone by a fuller ball that ricocheted off the edge to the wicketkeeper. Bopara and Bresnan added 40 in quick time but Sachin Tendulkar, bringing himself on just before tea, lured Bopara into an airy flick, only for Dinesh Karthik to pull off a smart reflex catch at short leg. It gave the Indians a sniff but proved to be the last cheery moment of the day.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo