Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara (Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara was the fulcrum around which the Indian innings revolved as England hit back through Sam Curran and Ben Stokes in quick succession in another absorbing session of play on Day 2 of the fourth Test in Southampton. India are 181/5 with Rishabh Pant falling at the stroke of tea, trapped lbw for a 29-ball duck.

Pujara was unbeaten on 70 as England put India under pressure with some inspired spell of bowling from allrounder Stokes.

Virat Kohli, the series leading run-getter, was edgy and pushed after deliveries outside off. He edged some, got beaten on few occasions but survived. An edge off Moeen Ali flew through the gap between wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and first slip Stokes for four. Kohli soon was heading towards what looked like yet another half-century of the series when Sam Curran returned to provide a big breakthrough. Kohli poked at a delivery that was going across and the result was an edge with Alastair Cook doing well to pouch a low catch at second slip.

And then, surprisingly, Joe Root introduced Stokes who seemed unfit to bowl. And soon it became clear why he was asked to roll his arm over as he began troubling the Indian batsmen. Pujara, who was rock-solid despite a few nervy moments in between, scored his 19th Test fifty. He soon edged one from Stokes that flew between Buttler and first slip fielder Cook. An over later, Ajinkya Rahane nicked him to the right of Root but the England captain only managed a hand at second slip.

Stokes was rewarded soon as he trapped Rahane with a beautiful inswinger on 11. Rahane reviewed and it looked as Stokes might have overstepped but the TV umpire termed it as a fair delivery and the lbw decision was eventually upheld.

Pujara then copped a blow to his helmet as he attempted to pull a bouncer from Stokes, that caused a brief delay as the physio came out to attend him. After a change of helmet, Pujara resumed, more determined and later on, dismissed a half-volley from the England allrounder through covers for his eighth boundary.

Pant, unlike his debut innings when he got off the mark with a six off the second ball he faced, took his time. But Moeen, who had earlier troubled Kohli, managed to get through his defenses with the ball straightening up enough to have him pinned in front making it England’s session.

Brief Scores: India 181/5 (Cheteshwar Pujara 70, Virat Kohli 46; Moeen Ali 1/22, Ben Stokes 1/23) trail England 246 by 65 runs on Day 2