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India vs England: Cheteshwar Pujara confident India will tackle Moeen on slow Southampton pitch

India don’t have a history of big successful chases in England. Of the seven Tests they have won in England, three were achieved chasing a fourth innings target. Among them the best came in the famous Oval win in 1971, when they chased down 173, reaching 174/6.

cricket Updated: Sep 02, 2018 12:42 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Southampton
india england,india vs england,cheteshwar pujara
India don’t have a history of big successful chases in England. Of the seven Tests they have won in England, three were achieved chasing a fourth innings target(REUTERS)

Cheteshwar Pujara bemoaned India’s lower order batsmen throwing away the advantage built by him and skipper Virat Kohli on the second day, but said the fourth Test against England was not out of India’s hand.

The India No 3 made a brilliant 132 not out to steer India into a slender lead, but England batsmen ground out a potentially match-winning lead of 233 after batting through the third day to reach 260/8 at the Ageas Bowl on Saturday.

India don’t have a history of big successful chases in England. Of the seven Tests they have won in England, three were achieved chasing a fourth innings target. Among them the best came in the famous Oval win in 1971, when they chased down 173, reaching 174/6.

However, Pujara felt the slow and dry pitch made conditions more like home rather than the seaming tracks they have had to contend with in this series.

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England added only 254 runs on Day 3 but it also helped the surface gradually deteriorate, leaving off-spinner Moeen Ali, who took five wickets in India’s first innings, as a big threat.

India’s spinner R Ashwin bowled 35 overs, but managed to take just one wicket in a frustrating day on the field for the visitors, chasing victory to even the series they trail 1-2 with a game left.

Pujara didn’t talk to the media on Friday as he was too exhausted, but had to field questions about India’s chances after the third day’s play.

“I don’t think it was a tough day for us, in the sense, looking at the pitch, it has slowed down a bit. It looks like it is slightly easier to bat. And we have got lot of experience playing in such conditions back home. So, I think our batsmen would have realised… we started off well in the first innings but lost too many wickets in the middle phase. If we had batted well, we could have got 100 or 150 runs lead.

“But that is something in the past. All batsmen have realised what they need to do, and in the second innings we will put up a good show after bowling them out early tomorrow.”

He defended Ashwin when asked to compare him with Moeen.

“I don’t think he had a bad day. He didn’t get too many wickets but kept on bowling in the right areas. Sometimes as a bowler you do have such days.

“Ashwin is a clever bowler, he has done really well for us throughout in the domestic season and overseas. But yes, the pitch has slowed down a lot and that could be the reason some of his balls didn’t go through as much he might have wanted.

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“I don’t know much about spin bowling, so I can’t comment much about what technicalities it involves, but seeing him bowl, I don’t think he bowled badly at all.”

Pujara also felt Moeen was very effective on the second day because the pitch played a lot faster.

“When he bowled in the first innings, the wicket was a little quicker. Some of our batsmen could have batted well against him, but he is a good bowler. I’m not trying to take any credit away from how he bowled, but we still should have batted better against him. In the second innings our batters will have a better game plan against Moeen.”

First Published: Sep 02, 2018 08:51 IST