Vijay, Pujara outsmart England spinners

India reached 146 for one in reply to England’s first innings total of 400 at the end of the second day’s play of the fourth cricket Test. Opener Murali Vijay was unbeaten on 70 along with Chesteshwar Pujara (47 batting).

India's Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara shared an unbeaten 107-run partnership for the second wicket.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

England kept India on the field for close to half an hour past lunch on the second day of the fourth Test at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. In the process, the visiting team took its total to 400 and hoped that its spinners, Moeen Ali and >Adil Rashid, would take quick wickets and give England the upper hand.

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From Thursday morning, England had seen India’s Ravichandran Ashwin bowl tantalising spells. The off-spinner ended up with six wickets, with left-arm spinner >Ravindra Jadeja (4-109) playing the ideal foil.

There was evidence of the pitch assisting both the England spinners. Off-spinner Moeen Ali even managed to bowl K. L. Rahul through the gate off the last ball of the 14th over. >Read: Parthiv feels Indian spinners are better

England had every reason to celebrate the dismissal, especially since the Indian openers, Rahul and >Murali Vijay, had successfully seen off the early threats of the seamers. Keen to get back to the serious business of scoring runs, especially after a disappointing display in the second Test in Visakhapatnam, Rahul was in his elements against >Jimmy Anderson and Chris Woakes, and against Rashid too before he became a little too ambitious to take on Ali. Rahul would have realised the folly of playing the shot against the spin, but it turned out to be a classic off-spinner’s wicket.

Read: >Ashwin gets his 23rd five-wicket haul in Tests

Vijay opened his account with well-timed off-drive off Woakes, after which Rahul sent the same bowler to the long off fence and square drove Anderson, before Alastair Cook brought in Ali in the eighth over and Rashid in the ninth. After conceding 24 runs in his first five overs, Rashid was taken off the attack. The England spinners sent down 28 overs and they went for almost three-and-a-half runs an over. Vijay stepped out of his crease to lift both Rashid and Ali straight over their heads. He ducked without any trouble when the seamers pitched short.

Vijay and >Cheteshwara Pujara were almost flawless. The two displayed top-class temperament and stroke-making ability. While Vijay was methodical and looked to punish the spinners, Pujara, quick to spot the error in the length of the seamers, rose on his toes to send the ball racing to the fence through point and cover. India would look to this pair to consolidate.

England suffered a major setback after it had added nine runs to its overnight 288. The umpire had to overturn a decision following a review by India against Ben Stokes. The left-hander was very confident that he had not nicked the ball, but the third umpire, C. Shamsuddin, thought otherwise. Replays confirmed the deviation and showed that the ball may have actually got a feather touch.

It was Ashwin’s fifth wicket after which England lost Woakes and Rashid to Jadeja before >Jos Buttler and Jake Ball frustrated India with a 54-run stand for the ninth wicket. India delayed taking the second new ball, and even after it was claimed in the 122nd over, Virat Kohli had to call upon Ashwin and Jadeja to bring the England first innings to an end.