India's quest will be to reach 400 on Sunday morning against a second new ball that is only seven overs old. While he has not been able to make a name for himself for India in T20Is - he four games have resulted in 73 runs at a strike-rate of 105.79 - Pant's elevation to the India A squad that spent over a month in England this summer was further recognition of his talent.
But, Woakes aside, their pace bowlers did not carry a consistent threat until an improved Stuart Broad removed Rahane after tea. In January, arguably only shoddy catching prevented India from recording their first test series victory in South Africa.
The skipper, who has changed his playing XI 37 times in as many Tests as captain, said his players did not feel threatened that the team's priority was to win matches. The tourists also gave a Test debut to 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who came in for Dinesh Karthik.
If Pant's Test debut has generated a lot of interest, there is a prayer on every fan's lips that skipper Kohli gets fit enough to wield the willow. India's best effort away from home till date has been rallying after losing the first Test to win the next two, in the 2015 series in Sri Lanka. Rahane and Kohli cashed in.
Rahane played a number of delightful shots through the offside: cover drives, a few slashes over point, a fierce square drive off Woakes. This alliance for the fourth wicket had swelled to 159 when it was finally snapped, Alastair Cook grabbing an astonishing one-handed catch at first slip to dismiss Rahane for 81. Rashid's lone wicket was that of Kohli.
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England's logic for bowling first was sound - the pitch had patches of furry grass, the early conditions were cloudy and they had a vulnerable batting line-up in their sights.
The hosts, though, were blunted in the afternoon, with Stokes and Rashid disappointing. The ball did not hoop around corners like it had last week but this was still a bold, purposeful day's cricket from the visitor. Three half-centuries in four innings for India A on their first-class tour of England this summer were encouraging, too. Meanwhile, England have a big selection headache on their hands.
"When you see a team dominate like England did at Lord's you get a bit bored but today has been a proper contest".
The all-rounder would be back in the starting eleven at the expense of the unfortunate Sam Curran, who was man-of-the-match in the opening Test at Edgbaston.
"I'm looking forward to seeing more of Pant".