India with top order concerns ahead of first Test with England

Cheteshwar Pujara at Chelmsford
Pujara hit five fours in his 35-ball innings
Tour match, Chelmsford (day three of three):
India 395 & 89-2: KL Rahul 36*, Pujara 23
Essex 359-8 dec: Walter 75, U Yadav 4-35
Match drawn

India will enter next week's first Test against England with questions over their top order after batting failures on the final day against Essex.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan fell for his second duck of the match, while number three Cheteshwar Pujara made only 23.

India reached 89-2 in their second innings when rained ended the match half an hour after tea.

Essex declared on 359-8 in their first innings of the tour match, giving up a deficit of 36 runs.

The home side kept the tourists in the field for well over a day and, if they had not made the sporting decision to declare, could have made India's bowlers toil longer.

Dhawan was then particularly guilty of wasting the hosts' hospitality, completing a pair when he was bowled by Matt Quinn.

After bagging a golden duck in the first innings, Dhawan has faced only four deliveries in the match.

Pujara at least made a start before falling to Paul Walter, leaving KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane to ease their way to the premature close.

Earlier, India remained reluctant to employ their spinners, with all but 11 of the 94 overs in the Essex innings sent down by fast bowlers.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was struck on the hand in practice on Thursday, bowled five overs, while left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav was employed for only four.

Kuldeep, impressive during the limited-overs matches against England, conceded six runs an over and was the victim of some brutal treatment from Walter, who made 75.

Walter was dropped on 29 by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik off Mohammed Shami and took advantage with some meaty hitting.

After James Foster went for 42 and Matt Coles for nought, both to Umesh Yadav, Walter was supported by Aaron Nijjar.

They, like Feroze Khushi who followed, usually ply their trade either in the Essex second team or in club cricket, but were not fazed by India's international attack.

The first Test begins at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

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