Murali Vijay, who was dropped from the Indian Test squad after the third Test in England, continued his impressive maiden county season with his fourth successive 50+ score in as many innings.
Playing for Essex, Vijay made 80 off 127 balls that, along with Tom Westley's unbeaten 93, put his side in command against Championship winners Surrey at The Oval in London.
Vijay and Westley shared a 146-run stand for the second wicket as Essex went to stumps on the first day at 197 for 2 after bowling out Surrey for just 67 in the first session. Surrey had won the toss and opted to bat first, but pacers James Porter and Samuel Cook bagged four wickets apiece in helpful conditions to demolish the home side.
Vijay hit 10 fours in his knock against a bowling attack that had former South African pacer Morne Morkel and England pacer Jade Dernbach. He fell in the 48th over, edging Dernbach to the wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. Westley, the slower of the two batsmen, remained unbeaten on 93 off 201 balls.
Vijay had managed only 26 runs from four innings during the Test series in England, including a pair in the second Test at Lord's but seems to have struck form since being axed from the squad.
Since joining Essex earlier in the month, Vijay has scores of 56 and 100 against Nottinghamshire and an 85 against Worcestershire apart from his latest half-century in the ongoing match against Surrey.