India v England: Cheteshwar Pujara and spinners put tourists to the sword
India v England: A Cheteshwar Pujara double hundred and three late wickets puts the hosts in total control of the first Test
A Cheteshwar Pujara double hundred and India’s spinners put England to the sword on day two of the first Test in Ahmedabad.
Earlier in the day, Pujara scored 206, before three late wickets from Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha left England teetering on 41-3 at the close of play.
Off-spinner Ashwin classically dismissed debutant Nick Compton through the gate for nine, with night watchman James Anderson (2) and Jonathan Trott (0) out soon afterwards.
Captain Alastair Cook, unbeaten on 22, and Kevin Pietersen now have a mountain to climb on day three to try and match India’s first innings 521-8 declared.
Pujara’s score confirmed his partiality for big centuries like the man he succeeded for the number three spot – Rahul Dravid nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for his long innings.
Batting for over eight-and-a-half hours, Pujara hit 21 fours in a knock which contrasted greatly with Virender Sehwag’s 117 off 117 balls on day one.
The 24-year-old has already scored four triple hundreds in all forms of cricket, including age-group level, and if he had not been cut short by declaration then there might have been a fifth.
England plugged away through the day, with Graeme Swann bowling 51 overs to complete a five-wicket haul that demonstrated great concentration considering his pre-match preparation was interrupted with a round-trip to the UK to tend to his sick daughter.
The Nottinghamshire spinner was the sole threat to India’s batsmen, receiving hardly any support from his fellow bowlers.
Samit Patel was extremely fortunate to dismiss Yuvraj Singh with a waist-high full toss caught by Swann at long-on to take England’s first wicket of day two.
You feel that only a first-innings score of real substance can retain Patel’s place for the second Test in Mumbai. The left-arm spinner rarely went past the edge in 31 overs bowled and fulfilled a containing role. A job that is rather futile in a four-man attack.
Swann bowled Mahendra Singh Dhoni to complete his five-wicket haul – his 14th in Test cricket – four years on since he made his debut on England’s last tour of India.
And when Ashwin was caught behind off the part-time bowling of Pietersen, it was only a matter of time before the innings was to come to a close.
The dismissal of Zaheer Khan for seven caught in the gully by Trott saw India declare with eight wickets down soon afterwards.
England must have thought they could negotiate 17 overs left of play with little trouble after all their pre-match talk of how they had changed their mindset against spin. How wrong they were.