India v England: Panesar justifies selection with four-wicket haul
India v England: Monty Panesar justifies his place with a four-wicket haul as the hosts finish on 266-6 on day one of second Test
England’s Monty Panesar took four wickets against India in Mumbai on day one of the second Test to fully merit his selection as the hosts finished on 266-6.
The left-arm spinner was the measure of control collecting figures of four for 91 in 34 overs, making it extremely difficult to see why he was left out of the series’ opener in Ahmedabad.
India scored slowly in a gripping first day’s play that saw England have a slightly better share of the honours after losing the toss again and being asked to bowl.
Cheteshwar Pujara – a constant thorn in England’s side at present – scored 114 not out to fight back late in the day with Ravi Ashwin on 60 not out after India had been 119-5 after 40 overs.
The 24-year-old Pujara has now spent more than 900 minutes at the crease in the series without being dismissed.
Jimmy Anderson started proceedings by trapping Gautim Gambhir with just the second ball of the game for four.
An early wicket was exactly what England needed to build pressure on India after being dominated from the start in the first Test.
Panesar’s selection was justified just over an hour later when he bowled Sehwag for 30 in the 17th over before dismissing Tendulkar in his next.
The wicket of the Little Master was the highlight of the day.
The ball dipped and bounced on middle, before spitting off the surface to clip the top of off-stump. It was a magical delivery that left Tendulkar groping for the ball.
India were 60-3 at that stage and the decision to pick three spinners by both sides seemed entirely justified.
Samit Patel kept his place at six to accompany tweakers Graeme Swann and Panesar with India picking Harbhajan Singh adding to Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin.
Panesar then picked up Virat Kohli caught at cover by Nick Compton for 19 not long after lunch.
It was a smart catch from Compton that highlighted Kohli’s relatively poor form so far this series.
The arrival of the left-handed Yuvraj Singh to the wicket ensured that Alastair Cook immediately called upon Swann.
The Nottinghamshire spinner’s dominance against left-handers continued when he clean bowled Yuvraj for a duck coming from around the wicket.
Swann moved to 199 Test wickets with the dismissal after he passed legendary off-spinner Jim Laker during the last Test.
Pujara and Mahendra Singh Dhoni re-built with a partnership of 50 to take India to tea.
The interval, though, did India no favours because eight balls into the evening session Panesar had his fourth wicket snaring Dhoni (29) at gully and breaking an important stand to leave them on 169-6.
However, Pujara continued his excellent start in the series, looking immensely assured at the crease and was the only batsman who was untroubled by a day one pitch which spun prodigiously.
And was ably supported by the lower-order batsman Ashwin who scored his second Test fifty in a unbeaten partnership of 97.
Alastair Cook will know that Panesar’s good work could become undone if Pujara and Ashwin stick around on day two.