A masterly innings of 197 by Michael Vaughan, his third Test hundred this season and the highest score of his burgeoning international career, was the centrepiece of an entertaining England reply to India's 357. It was the highest individual score in Tests between England and India at Trent Bridge, and the best of Vaughan's first-class career. When bad light ended play nine overs early, England were on 341 for five, just 16 runs behind.
Vaughan's innings included an array of off-side strokes of characteristic elegance. He was missed once, on 30, off Harbhajan Singh in the last over before lunch, a difficult, leg-side chance to wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel. Otherwise he utterly dominated on both sides of the wicket, pulling both Ashish Nehra and Sourav Ganguly to the rope at mid-wicket with real ferocity.
Nehra took the first England wicket, when Robert Key tried to pull a short ball that lifted less than he expected. All he got on it was glove, and to his dismay the ball then bounced back on to the stumps. Key (17) had put on 56 with Vaughan. It was India's only wicket of the afternoon session. Mark Butcher, also strong on the off-side, was missed by Harbhajan - a difficult return catch as the batsman played too soon.
Butcher survived a confident appeal for a catch by Wasim Jaffer in the gully off Nehra, when replays didn't confirm whether the ball had carried. He had reached 53 (115 balls, eight fours) when he edged a turning delivery from Harbhajan straight to Rahul Dravid at slip. Butcher and Vaughan had added 165 for the second wicket. Nasser Hussain then encountered a rare failure in recent outings; sweeping at Harbhajan, he presented Patel with his first Test scalp as the ball ballooned up off his glove.
John Crawley, after looking secure for three quarters of an hour, had made 22 when he got an inside edge on to his pad to be caught in the gully off Zaheer Khan. But the arrival of Alec Stewart upped the tempo again, as two crisp boundaries through mid-wicket off Harbhajan hoisted England's 300. Vaughan was within just three runs of a double century when he drove a trifle tiredly at Ajit Agarkar, for Patel to pouch a thin deflection. His 197 had included 23 fours and came off 258 balls.
Earlier India kicked on to their total of 357 thanks primarily to a rumbustious half century by Harbhajan, who provided tremendous entertainment while adding 61 off 62 balls with Zaheer. Coming off just 33 balls, Harbhajan's was the second-fastest fifty in Indian Test history; only the great Kapil Dev, who reached the landmark off 30 balls against Pakistan at Karachi in 1982/3, has got there quicker.
The fun ended for India when Harbhajan got a leading edge to Steve Harmison, to be caught by Hussain running in from extra cover. Matthew Hoggard, switching ends, then found Nehra's outside edge with a perfect outswinger.