Mumbai: Nov 23, 2012
Cheteshwar Pujara displayed grit to remain unconquered with a half century even as England applied the screws on India and made the hosts struggle on a turning track on the opening day of the second cricket Test here on Friday.
Caught on a viciously spinning track, India are 167 for five at tea after Pujara and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with his aggressive batting, bailed them out with an unbroken sixth wicket stand.
Pujara, who cracked a man of the match winning unbeaten double hundred and 41 not out in the opening Test, was unbeaten on 77 after a stay of almost four hours and Dhoni was on 27 after 78 minutes of batting.
Pujara had faced 185 balls and hit six fours while Dhoni struck four boundaries off 62 balls as India, 87 for 3 at the end of the first session, added 80 runs between lunch and tea for the loss of two wickets in 32 overs.
While Pujara played a watchful role, Dhoni attacked judiciously at the other end unmindful of the turn. Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, left out of the first Test that England lost by 9 wickets, was the destroyer-in-chief for the visitors.
He bowled a splendid spell of 23 overs on either side of lunch for the wickets of Virender Sehwag (30), Sachin Tendulkar (8) and Virat Kohli (19).
James Anderson and off-spinner Graeme Swann packed off Gautam Gambhir (4) and Yuvraj Singh (2) respectively. After pushing India on the backfoot in the pre-lunch session, England continued the good work with a two-wicket burst in successive overs in the first hour of the post-lunch session.
Panesar, who sent back Sehwag — playing his 100th Test — and Tendulkar in the successive overs before lunch, got his third victim of the innings by dismissing Kohli.
After disturbing the stumps of Sehwag and Tendulkar with sharply turning balls, Panesar induced Kohli to attempt a drive with a ball that drifted in and turned big to take the bat’s leading edge for Nick Compton at short covers.
Kohli, unbeaten on 6 at lunch, had cover-driven the left-arm bowler and his spin partner Swann for boundaries in successive overs before he was lured to his departure by the crafty Panesar in the bowler’s 17th over.
Panesar had packed off the two big guns Sehwag and Tendulkar — in successive overs and in the space of 11 balls in the pre-lunch period.
The left-arm slow bowler made the ball drift in to the right-handers and extracted sharp turn off the track from his first over, the seventh of the innings.
He could have had the confident-looking Pujara too when the batsman, on 16 in a team score of 135 for 5, edged the bowler to the left of Anderson at short gully who could not latch on to the catch.
Prior to this slice of luck, Yuvraj Singh, who had 74 on his Test comeback in Ahmedabad, had departed for a second-ball duck, clean bowled as he defended Swann by rooted to his crease.
Swann had been brought on for a new spell by visiting skipper Alastair Cook soon after the left handed batsman arrived at the crease and the move paid off well.
The hosts lost these two wickets in successive overs for the addition of just one run to be tottering at 119 for five and the loss of Pujara, easily the best Indian batsman against the turning ball in the match, would have been a major blow to their hopes of putting up a good total after opting to bat.
Dhoni came to the crease and started to attack the two spinners with his drives and cuts. He was lucky on 22 when he stepped out against Swann, missed it but the ball clipped the top of his pad and got deflected before wicketkeeper Matt Prior could collect it and stump the batsman.
Earlier in the morning, James Anderson gave England an early break by dismissing Gautam Gambhir off the second ball of the match.
Brief Scores: India 167/5 (Cheteshwar Pujara 77*, MS Dhoni 27*; Monty Panesar three for 64, Greame Swann one for 40) vs England