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The Bhuvi and Shami show

India’s No. 9 and 11 talk about their resolute and courageous batting stand

Mohammad Shami, India’s No. 11, walked in to bat at Trent Bridge in the fifth over after Lunch on Day 2.

In those five overs, India had lost four wickets for four runs. Welcoming him at the crease was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the No. 9.

Since coming to England, these two must have spent hours discussing their bowling strategies and studying the opposition batsmen. But in their first alliance in a Test match in England they were figuring out how to counter the English bowlers.

They did a pretty decent job too, forming a 111-run partnership for the 10th wicket – the best in Test cricket by India’s 9 and jack against England.

En route, both the pacers got to their respective maiden Test fifties. But more importantly, they gave themselves some invaluable extra runs to bowl with on a wicket that is more Nagpur than Nottingham.

After the day’s play, Bhuvi and Shami paired up again, this time, to chat with BCCI.TV about their partnership.

Here is the conversation…

What was the plan when you came together in the middle?

Bhuvi: We knew that being the tailenders we could get out any time. But we decided that we would not get out playing a bad shot. When we both reached our 30s, I told Shami that we need to be more focused now since we’re not used to batting for long periods and so our concentration level is not so high. So, we tried harder to focus in the latter part of the innings than we did initially.

Shami: While we were batting together we were backing each other on the slow and low wicket. We said, we have to bowl on this wicket next and the more runs we score, the easier it will be for us to defend them.

What was the immediate course of action when Shami joined in?

Bhuvi: I was batting for a while when Shami came in. So I thought I would first let him watch from the other end how the wicket is playing and what the bowlers are up to. We decided that I will play out most of the first three-four overs and give him only the last ball or two. He settled down after five-six overs because the wicket was not difficult to bat on.

Shami: I was happy to watch from the other end for a while and it was a mutual decision. We don’t bat together very often and only one mistake is enough to end it all. We knew we wouldn’t get many chances to bat on such (batting friendly) wicket in England, and so we decided to make the most of it. It was wonderful that we did it when the team needed us to.

You two played some entertaining and good-looking shots off the England bowlers. Did you enjoy those?

Bhuvi: The inside-out cover drive off Moeen Ali was my favourite shot of the innings. Once you get set, it gets easier to hit such shots. As I said, all you have to ensure is that you don’t lose your concentration. It happened once or twice that both of us played a rash shot but we were lucky to not get out. It is a very different feeling to score your first Test fifty and that too overseas.

Shami (on hitting James Anderson for a four over midwicket and a six over long-on): If the ball is in my radar, I just go for the shot without bothering who the bowler is. But it was fun.

Did any of you know that Shami edged one to the keeper off Plunkett?

Shami: Honestly, I didn’t feel the edge. The strap on my helmet was moving and hitting the helmet quite a bit. So, I just thought it was that sound. When they started to appeal, I was wondering what it was for. It turned out to be a very fine edge.

Bhuvi: I too didn’t hear anything from the non-striker’s end and even the bowler didn’t appeal. It was just one of those faint edges that no one realized of. Hard luck to them.

How do you plan to bowl on this wicket?

Shami: The most important thing on this wicket will be the use of the new ball. We have to make the most of it while it is still hard and swinging. We will have to ensure that we make the batsmen play and try to get them out. It will take a lot of hard work to get the ball to reverse in these conditions and wicket. It is easier to get the SG ball to reverse; preparing the Duke ball will be a lot tougher. So, the key for us is the new ball.

Bhuvi: Whether the ball reverses or not is something we will see later on. But for me it will be crucial to bowl stump to stump – full and straight. Our main plan will be to get them out bowled or lbw and take the pitch out of equation.

Shirin Sadikot

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Was determined to convert the start: Vijay

India’s centurion says he has worked on getting big scores after settling in

After all the build-up, preparations and anticipation, India’s big Test series in England finally begun at Trent Bridge. And it got off the mark with a beautiful day of Test cricket albeit on an uncharacteristic English wicket.

The first day of the Test was particularly special for Murali Vijay, who brought up his first Test century overseas and fourth overall. Vijay started off with a flurry of shots in the morning session, bringing up his 50 off 68 balls with the help of 11 fours.

Post lunch, with the ball reverse swinging and the Jimmy Anderson-led pace attack changing their line of attack to a more accurate one, batting got a little tougher. India lost Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli within 10 balls and runs were hard to come by. That’s when Vijay changed his batting rhythm as well, playing a more patient game. His second fifty came in 146 balls and it took him 48 balls to get from 90 to 100.

His unbeaten 122 was proof of Vijay’s hard work and his determination to convert starts into big scores – something he admitted had been lacking from his game. In a chat with BCCI.TV, the opener spoke of is special innings.

First Test century overseas – perfect start to the series for you?

It is. I was batting well throughout the South Africa and New Zealand series but couldn’t convert the starts into big scores. Here I came determined to do that and I am glad I could do it in the first innings itself.

You missed out a ton in Durban by three runs – got out to Steyn off a short ball. Plunkett was trying to do the same. Did that Durban dismissal play on your mind?

I wasn’t thinking of that knock actually. I knew different bowlers would come up with different strategies against me, especially when I was closing in on a century. I just wanted to maintain my focus and get there.

Did that phase right after the lunch break test your patience?

The ball was doing a bit after lunch and they were getting it to reverse. Also, we lost a couple of quick wickets during that phase and I didn’t want to play any flashy shots. I just wanted to tire them up.

Did you feel like you played two different innings in one innings?

The two halves of the innings were contrasting and that’s what Test cricket demands from you. You have to alter your game according to the conditions and situations as much as you do against different bowlers. This will be a learning curve for all of us who are coming here for the first time. The SA and NZ series gave us confidence which is helping us here.

We have seen a marked improvement in your batting with every passing innings. Could you tell me what specifics you have worked on?

The only thing I worked on was to capitalize my starts. Until now, I was getting the starts and then got out. The same happened in South Africa as well when I couldn’t get past the 90s. I also got some 40s during those twin tours and didn’t get past them. That is something I want to change here. I want to capitalize on this opportunity.

Shirin Sadikot

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