NOTTINGHAM - India debutant Stuart Binny's maiden fifty made sure of a draw with England in the first Test at Trent Bridge on Sunday. On a docile pitch, a draw had always seemed the most likely outcome and so it proved as the first of this five-match series ended in stalemate ahead of Thursday's second Test at Lord's.
A draw had all but been assured after England's Joe Root (154 not out) and James Anderson (81) shared a Test record tenth-wicket stand of 198, eclipsing the 111 put on earlier in the match by India's last-wicket pair of Kumar and M Shami (51 not out). This result extended England's winless run to nine Tests -- their worst sequence since they went 10 without victory from 1992 to 1993 -- and meant India had now gone 15 Tests without an away win.
The match was an all-round triumph for 24-year-old India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar who posted three Test-best performances in making 58 and 63 not out separated by a return of five for 82. "It was a good Test match for us, we managed to put pressure on them and then we held up well when we were under pressure," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. "We haven't had a seaming all-rounder but Stuart Binny can be someone who can really contribute for us in the future."
Reflecting on England's extraordinary last-wicket stand, Dhoni added: "We tried a few things but the ball got soft and the bowlers got tired and I don't think there was much else we could have done." England captain Alastair Cook said he hoped for pitches with more in them for the pace bowlers during the remainder of the series. "We know we can put India under some pressure when we bat and we know we can put their top order under pressure. We just need a pitch with a bit of life in it."
After India resumed on 167 for three in overcast conditions on Sunday, they lost three wickets for 16 runs to give England a glimmer of hope.
Stuart Broad, on his Nottinghamshire home ground, sparked the slump by taking two for no runs in five balls. Broad, who had been severely critical of the sluggish wicket, had Virat Kohli, aiming across the line, plumb lbw for his overnight eight. The fast-medium bowler then induced Ajinkya Rahane (24) to edge straight to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Broad then found Dhoni's outside edge only for Cook to drop the routine slip catch with his opposing skipper on five. It was a miss that added to the woes of Cook, struggling for runs and under fire for his tactics. Fortunately for England, however, it was not an expensive error as Dhoni had only made 11 when, aiming towards mid-on, he was bowled by Liam Plunkett's first delivery Sunday, with the ball reversing in and flicking the front pad before crashing into the stumps.
After lunch, England took the new ball as soon as they could, with India 244 for six off 80 overs. Three overs later, Anderson -- man-of-the-match for his batting exploits at No 11 -- had Ravindra Jadeja (31) caught behind. Binny was briefly unsettled by a couple of well pitched-up Anderson deliveries. But having made just one in India's first innings, he quickly regained his composure and a single off Plunkett saw the 30-year-old all-rounder to an 86-ball fifty, including six boundaries.
An increasingly assured Binny, the son of 1983 India World Cup-winner Roger, went down the pitch to drive part-time off-spinner Moeen Ali over extra-cover for six. Ali, though, had his revenge when Binny, on 78, was given out lbw but by then his eighth-wicket stand of 91 with Kumar had secured a draw. With India more than 300 runs ahead at tea, Cook gave his frontline bowlers a rest in the final session, thereby easing Kumar's progress to a 114-ball fifty with eight fours. Cook, in a sure sign the match was over as a contest, then brought himself on and, while performing impersonations of several ex-England bowlers, had Ishant Sharma caught down the legside by Prior to claim his first Test wicket.
INDIA 1ST INNINGS: 457
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS: 496
INDIA 2ND INNINGS:
M Vijay c Prior b Ali 52
S Dhawan c and b Ali 29
C Pujara c Stokes b Plunkett 55
V Kohli lbw b Broad 8
A Rahane c Prior b Broad 24
MS Dhoni b Plunkett 11
R Jadeja c Prior b Anderson 31
S Binny lbw b Ali 78
B Kumar not out 63
I Sharma c Prior b Cook 13
M Shami not out 4
EXTRAS: (b9, lb7, nb7) 23
TOTAL: (9 wkts dec, 123 overs) 391
FOW: 1-49, 2-140, 3-140, 4-168, 5-173, 6-184, 7-249, 8-340, 9-387
BOWLING: Anderson 21-8-47-1; Broad 21-7-50-2; Plunkett 20-1-85-2; Ali 28-4-105-3; Stokes 18-3-60-0; Root 12-4-22-0; Cook 2-0-6-1; Ballance 1-1-0-0
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: James Anderson (ENG)
UMPIRES: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI) and Bruce Oxenford (AUS)
TV UMPIRE: Ian Gould (ENG)
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (AUS)