Gritty Pujara scores a brilliant ton as India inch ahead of England

 

Match 4 Day 2 Review

If the first day of this match wasn’t exciting enough, Day 2 provided all the adventure, ecstasy and
joy which is the very essence of a test match. After restricting England to 246 on day 1 despite the
heroics of Sam Curran, India looked good to go past the total. However, it didn’t quite turn out that
way. It was a fabulous day’s cricket as England made a comeback of sorts with the ball before India
inched ahead courtesy a Pujara special.

The proceedings on day 2 were underway as the conditions looked great for batting. The Indian
openers came out and started confidently with boundaries each. However, the swing was very much
available due to the moisture in the early morning on the pitch. Before the openers settled down, an
in-swinger from Broad trapped KL Rahul in front to draw first blood. He then dismissed Shikhar
Dhawan with a widish delivery taking the edge of the bat to the keeper. Dhawan, being a stroke-
maker went after that one only to edge it behind.

The best batsman of the series so far walked out in the middle to join Cheteshwar Pujara. The pair
added 50 runs to take India to 100/2 at lunch. Post lunch, both the batsmen continued to score runs freely as the game started to drift towards India. But then England’s young hero Sam Curran did the unthinkable as he got the edge of Kohli’s bat that carried to the slips. The captain departed after playing another good looking knock of 46 with India still 104 behind. Ajinkya Rahane then joined Pujara to resume the innings. However, he was foxed by an incoming delivery from Ben Stokes which trapped him LBW on 11 leaving India at 161/4.

Young Rishabh Pant was out in the middle and it turned out to be his most uncomfortable stay at the wicket. He faced 29 deliveries and couldn’t get off the mark. He was eventually dismissed LBW by the off-spinner Moeen Ali. Pant equaled an Indian record for the slowest duck in tests. Hardik
Pandya came out and started confidently with a four. However, he too didn’t last long as he flicked a nicely tossed up delivery from Moeen straight into the hands of short mid-wicket. Ashwin and Shami followed suit as India suddenly lost quick wickets and started to look down the barrel. From 161/4, India had slipped to 195/8 courtesy some excellent bowling from Moeen who got 4 quick wickets.

Meanwhile, Cheteshwar Pujara was watching it all from one end. Ishant Sharma joined him with
India still 51 behind. Sensing the need for quick runs as the tail was out in the middle, The India no.3 started playing aggressively. He put on a quick 32-run stand with Ishant for the ninth wicket as India inched closer to English total. At one stage it looked like England would have a comfortable lead.

However, Pujara had other plans. He hung in there showing tremendous patience and character to
bring up his 15 th  Test hundred. While he played second fiddle to Kohli initially, Pujara played some good attacking strokes to bring up a well-deserved century.

When the last man, Bumrah joined Pujara, India were still trailing by 19. But Pujara kept his
composure to take most of the strike to deny the English bowlers any chance of a wicket. He added
another 46 with the No.11 before Broad ended Bumrah’s brief innings on 6 as India took a slender  lead of 27 over the hosts. At stumps, England were 6/0 in 4 overs.

After a wonderful partnership between Pujara and Kohli, Moeen Ali ripped apart the Indian lower-
middle order. He was the star for England as he picked up a five-for. Broad was impressive too as he got 3 wickets. At one stage India were reeling having lost 4 quick wickets. But the star of the day was Cheteshwar Pujara. He played a simply magnificent knock under pressure to put on useful
partnerships with the tail-enders – Ishant and Bumrah. Both Ishant and Bumrah played a crucial role with the bat as well. Both showed good resistance to score some handy runs in the end. India will have to thank the two apart from Pujara as their partnerships got India ahead of England’s total.

In the end, India would be satisfied after getting a slender lead, but they still will have to bowl well.
As the day progressed, the pitch did seem to have eased out a little as there wasn’t much for the
bowlers. But a delightful knock from Pujara has put India in a slightly better position than England.

It was another marvellous day of test cricket as we look forward to Day 4.

 

 

 

– Prasad Palkar

TEAM SPORTSNASHA