India v England: Talking points as Cook & Pietersen excel on day two
India v England: Matt Cansick looks at the talking points from day two of the second Test as the tourists' batsmen impress
England well placed
Despite the loss of Nick Compton for 29 and Jonathan Trott for a duck, England have put themselves in a strong position by reaching 178-2 at the end of the second day’s play. The main objective at the start of the day was to bowl India out as quickly as possible, and Monty Panesar was the man to make the breakthrough, removing the dangerous Ravichandran Ashwin for 68. There were pockets of resistance from the tail, but allowing India to reach 327 all out does not look as disappointing as it could have down now that the England batsmen have impressed. Cheteshwar Pujara fell for the first time in this series, stumped by Matt Prior off the bowling of Graeme Swann. This may remove the aura of invincibility that surrounds him in the minds of the England bowlers, but they still need to come up with an effective plan to ensure he does not score another big hundred the next time they face him.
Application pays dividends
Alastair Cook continued his fine form with an unbeaten 87, while Kevin Pietersen also reached the close of play without losing his wicket as he finished on 62 not out. If these two can carry on their fine form in the morning, the pressure on those below them in the order will be greatly reduced. This is exactly the kind of scenario in which the likes of Prior can take a game away from the opposition, and Jonny Bairstow will also benefit from the licence to play a few shots. Cook has played a typical innings so far, in many ways a replica of his century in Ahmedabad, and he will hope to complete a second hundred in as many matches at the start of day three. Pietersen is also well set, and the closer England get to reaching parity, the more likely he is to open his shoulders and start to increase the run rate. His 62 runs so far have come from just 85 balls, but he has played sensibly; more of the same is required tomorrow.
Match in the balance
England are still 149 runs behind India’s first innings total with eight wickets left, and they must first ensure that this total is matched and then passed. From there, a lead of 100-150 will give their bowlers something to play with, and the smaller the total England have to chase the better. That is a long way off yet, however, and one would expect Pragyan Ojha to improve on his figures of 2-65 from 21 overs. Looking down the order, and with just two wickets down, there is still plenty of batting to come despite the slightly longer tail for England. Samit Patel will be keen to make amends for a poor first Test, and an innings such as that against India A in one of the warm-up matches would solidify his place in the team. A good innings from Bairstow would pose an interesting selection dilemma ahead of the third Test, with Ian Bell due to return from the United Kingdom but on a poor run of form. Bairstow however, like his team mates and the England supporters, will be hoping that he does not have to head out into the middle for a little while yet.