Pujara immovable, India end day on 266/6
Test Match No.2 in Mumbai. Dhoni wanted pitches that turn from Ball 1, and he got it. Alastair cook lost the toss yet again, and he actually looked disgruntled. India elected to bat and would have hoped to put up another huge score. England will be wary that batting last on this pitch will be a nightmare. The changes to the teams were Bhajji in for Umesh Yadav and Panesar in for Bresnan.
First Session started just the way England wanted it to. Anderson caught Gambhir’s pads in front of the stumps on the second ball of the match, and he was gone for 4. His place in the team looks to be in serious jeopardy. Pujara walked in and stitched together a partnership with Sehwag. Panesar was in scheme of things soon, and he delivered. He bowled fuller lengths with great control, and was rewarded with the wickets of Sehwag and Sachin in consecutive overs. Sehwag couldn’t cash in, in his 100th test. Sachin’s lean run continues. Kohli came in and yet again started in sedate fashion. The Pujara – Kohli duo played till lunch, and India ended the session on 89/3. Pujara on 38* and Kohli on 6*.
Post Lunch Session brought some more cheer for the visitors. The spinners were bowling in tandem and were extracting good purchase from the wicket. Pujara was immovable and reached his half century with a boundary to midwicket off Panesar in the 35th over. Panesar finally got the breakthrough, as Kohli was caught in the covers by Compton, for 19. The pitch had played its tricks, but it was just reward for disciplined bowling from Monty. Yuvraj Singh did not last long either. He was gone for a duck as Swann went through his defenses. Dhoni walked in with India in a spot of bother, 119-5. Pujara was immovable, and along with Dhoni played out the remaining overs till tea. India were at 167/5, with Pujara on 77* and Dhoni on 27*.
Final session started well for England again. Panesar removed the Indian captain in just the second over after tea. Swann took a smart catch at gully, and Dhoni was gone for 29. With India at a precarious 169/6, England were hoping to wrap up things quickly. Ashwin had other ideas and started building together, what could be a match altering partnership, with Pujara. Pujara was inching along towards his century, and Ashwin was taking the pressure of him with some delightful shots. Both of them kept the spinners at bay with ease. The new ball was taken, and it did not bring much luck for England. Pujara reached his 3rd test ton, with a pull shot of Anderson. England have still not found a way to dismiss him. Ashwin meanwhile brought about his 2nd test half century with a flurry of boundaries. They played out the remaining overs without any panic, and India ended the day on 266/6. Pujara still going strong on 114* and Ashwin giving him able company on 60*.
The way things started, England would have loved to end Day 1 with their noses in front. India clawed back through the magnificent Pujara and Ashwin. England will need to wrap up things early next morning and restrict India to the minimum. With the pitch already playing its tricks and India armed with 3 frontline spinners, things can only get tougher for England.