England vs India 4th Test, Day 2 Review: Precious Pujara gives India a handy lead

England vs India 4th Test, Day 2 Review: Precious Pujara gives India a handy lead

Pujara's hundred, Moeen's fifty dictate terms on day 2.

Cheteshwar Pujara shot
India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara hits out. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It was a day full of contrast, both the teams felt they were in control and then let it go failing to close in on crucial moments. Though just two days of cricket has been played in this Test match a lot has happened. India lost early wickets on day 2 but the partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli set them up for a lead. From there they were 195/8, went on to score 273 and managed a 27-run first innings lead.

The day started with Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul playing some really smooth looking shots. Thought the ball was swinging a lot it was a delight to the eyes. The English bowlers corrected their line, right away on the second morning after bowling a bit too far late on the first evening. Rahul who has had troubles with the ball coming into him was trapped in front once again.

Dhawan edged the away going delivery and Stuart Broad removed both the Indian openers. The duo once again had a start but couldn’t convert it. That’s when the two most confident batsmen were out in the middle. Skipper Virat Kohli got off the mark with a beautiful cover drive against Broad, just his way of announcing his arrival at the crease. With another boundary he got to 6000 runs in Test cricket. Pujara in his typical style took a while to get going. He had three runs from 32 balls to start with.

He played himself in, got a feel of the conditions as they were changing drastically. He batted cautiously, let the balls alone and was happy to let Kohli dominate the partnership. The two enjoyed batting in the middle part of the day when the ball seldom does something. Kohli was edging the ball, missing a few, Joe Root brought Keaton Jennings in as the other bowling option, he couldn’t or didn’t bowl Ben Stokes.

In the phase when the Indian captain didn’t look his focused self, he edged one from Sam Curran that was moving across him and Alastair Cook completed a good low catch. The partnership was finally broken on 92 and Virat scored 46.

Stokes who was struggling on the field was introduced after lunch and he was in business straight away. Ajinkya Rahane after two good knocks in the previous game fell to the big booming inswinger from Stokes on 11. He took a review, there was a no ball angle in it as well but the third umpire decided to give the bowler some advantage in a marginal call and it was three reds.

Meticulous Moeen

From the swing James Anderson & Co. got early on the ball was spinning in Moeen Ali’s hands. Rishabh Pant was batting with Pujara, two batsmen with contrasting styles. He tried his best to adapt to the longer format of the game, defended the ball, left it alone, didn’t score a run in the first 28 balls and when the 29th from Moeen hit him on the pads it was in front of the stumps.

The off-spinner who played for his county Worcestershire in the gap between the matches and scored a double ton was high on confidence. The rough created by Ishant Sharma’s footsteps gave him something to bowl at and it was turning. The Indian lower middle-order was clumsy, didn’t put in the effort to last at the crease. Hardik Pandya hit one straight to the short midwicket fielder palced there specifically for that job.

Ravichandran Ashwin for some reason attempted a reverse sweep on 1 and deflected it back onto his stumps. Mohammed Shami who likes to swing the big bat had no clue where the first ball from Moeen was going and lost his off-stump. With that, the off-spinner completed a fifer. England were suddenly all over India. There was a freefall of wickets, they were 195/8 all this while Pujara was at the other end watching his partners walk back one after the other.

England changed the course of attack all of a sudden, were bowling it really short at Pujara, Anderson came around the wicket and was trying to bounce him out. It appeared as if they had just given up on dismissing the set batsman and were targetting the other end.

The lower order resurgence

Pujara meanwhile was closing in on a magnificent hundred, he finally found a partner who was willing to hang on in Ishant. Pujara trusted him with the last few balls of the over against Moeen and even for the whole of it against Rashid. Ishant played the sweep really well for a man that tall and gave their partnership some momentum. His 14 and their partnership of 32 runs for the 10th wicket brought India on the brink of wiping off the deficit. Jasprit Bumrah who is a typical No.11 batsman also showed a lot of application, he was willing to let his partner get to his well deserved hundred.

Pujara got there with a lofted hit over the bowler and it was a look of content on his face. He had proved himself, in England, brought up his 15th Test century, three matches after he was not considered worthy of a spot in the XI there he was standing with his helmet off and not just the entire dressing room but everyone at the Ageas Bowl were standing to applaud his stupendous effort.

It was a typical Pujara knock full of hard work, towards the end he played some lovely shots, almost in limited-overs fashion. Root opened up the field and it was just a matter of exploiting the gaps, he did that really well. He carried on and took India to a lead of 27 runs before Bumrah was dismissed as the last man ending their 46-run partnership. He walked unbeaten on 132 and ensured it was his team that had the nose ahead in the contest.

England had a few overs to survive in the last 15 minutes of the day. Kohli started with Ashwin as the ball was turning and both the left-handers struggle against anything going away. They sneaked in four overs but Jennings and Cook walked back unbeaten and the third day will now decide which team takes control of the match.

Brief Scores:

Ist Innings-

England: 246 all out (Sam Curran 78; Jasprit Bumrah 3/46)

India: 273 all out (Cheteshwar Pujara 132*; Moeen Ali 5/63)

IInd Innings-

England: 6/0

England trail by 21 runs at stumps on Day 2

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