Virat Kohli 151*. Cheteshwar Pujara 119. England sweat in Visakhapatnam
Cheteshwar Pujara hit his third Test ton in a row and skipper Virat Kohli his second against England to give India early commandcricket Updated: Nov 17, 2016 21:58 IST
Centuries by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli helped India plunder 317/4 and wrest the advantage on the first day of the second Test here.
England failed to make an impact with their spin trio on a dry pitch and squandered the advantage of taking two early wickets through their pacers by not bowling off-spinner Moeen Ali till after lunch.
Pujara hit a century in his third consecutive Test but England would be mighty worried about the further damage Kohli can inflict on Friday after he remained unbeaten on 151 at stumps.
Stuart Broad dismissed KL Rahul and James Anderson removed Murali Vijay, extracting bounce with the new ball to have them caught at slip, but soon lost momentum as Broad pulled out after bowling three overs due to the recurrence of a wrist injury.
The visitors could still have made further inroads had Adil Rashid held on to a low catch of Kohli, top-edging a Ben Stokes bouncer, at long-leg when the India skipper was on 56. But this was a day where nothing went right for England apart from a few fine spells from comeback man Anderson, who had been out due to a shoulder injury.
Broad struck first when Rahul, anxious to get off the mark on return from injury, poked at a delivery that should have been left alone. Vijay drove Broad twice for boundaries but a slew of bouncers from Anderson got the better of him as he couldn’t get out of the line the third time, gloving to the cordon.
Pujara had a shaky start, failing to judge the bounce of a Broad delivery and getting dinked on the shoulder. But in the absence of swing and with Broad leaving the ground to receive medical attention, India’s job was made easier.
Barring the 22nd over when Pujara had two run-out scares, he showed flawless technique and judgement to slowly ramp up scoring. He took 113 deliveries to score his first fifty but only 71 deliveries for the second.
Kohli was more aggressive later but it was Pujara who first took the attack to England after lunch. When left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari returned after a first spell of 6-1-19-0, Pujara pulled him for six before coming down the pitch and drilling a full toss past mid-off for four. The tide had turned in favour of India.
Kohli finally joined the party in the 52nd over by driving Moeen Ali, who was not given a bowl till the 40th over, for a boundary before opening the face of his bat to get a four through third man. By then, Pujara was matching Kohli shot for shot and India scored 118 runs in the second session. Both reached their century and eventually put up a 226-run partnership but by staying unbeaten despite a close leg-before appeal off Ali, Kohli may have caused skipper Alastair Cook to get more creases on his forehead.
With Anderson coming back to snap up Ajinkya Rahane with the second new ball, Kohli’s responsibility won’t be restricted to guiding India to a good first innings total. By dropping Amit Mishra — he took a fifer the last time India played here (5thODI v New Zealand) — in favour of debutant off-spinner Jayant Yadav, Kohli has taken a huge risk.
Going by the amount of wear and tear on the pitch, the first innings runs will be crucial here. Kohli would be happy having won the toss and done his best to give India control.