India wears England down with Kohli, Pujara show

India progressed to a creditable 317 for four on the first day of the second Test at the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium, led by centuries from Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Virat Kohli (left) and Cheteshwar Pujara added 226 runs for the third wicket.   -  K. R. Deepak

The fiercely focussed Virat Kohli’s hunger for runs remains undiminished. Even as he dismantles attacks, the Indian captain continues to build monuments.

> Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

And the cultured Cheteshwar Pujara’s well-constructed 119 here on Thursday was his third century in as many Tests, following his unbeaten 101 at Indore and 124 in Rajkot. The right-hander is in the form of his life.

The two came together in a pressure situation at 22 for two; James Anderson and Stuart Broad had struck early. When Pujara was eventually dismissed, snared by a probing Anderson outside off, the Indians were at a more secure 248 for three. The impressive Anderson, his wrist and seam position exemplary, struck with the second new ball too, shaping one away from Ajinkya Rahane.

Kohli's wagon wheel



 

India, however, progressed to a creditable 317 for four on the first day of the second Test at the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium. It was a crucial toss to win for India. The turn for the English spinners was rather slow but a few deliveries kept low. Batting could become tougher as the match progresses.

Poised and balanced

For the host, Kohli is still around on a 241-ball unbeaten 151 (15x4). A heavyweight in the Indian line-up, Kohli was light on his feet. The feature of his innings was the manner Kohli drove off the front foot, getting to the pitch of the ball and striking it with a smooth, easy flow of the willow.

>Slideshow: Day One in pictures

His off-drive off Anderson was magnificent, and Ben Stokes was square-driven with finesse. When left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari flighted, Kohli jumped out and lofted him over mid-wicket. If the length was shorter, he rocked back. The 28-year-old Indian captain’s 14th Test century was underlined by poise and balance as the ball was met with a still head. And Kohli’s terrific bat-speed was in view as well.

> Read: Pujara attributes enterprising century to 'intent'

He was not averse to hooking and pulling. A couple of hooks were chancy though and Kohli (on 56) was fortunate that Adil Rashid, at fine-leg, could not latch on to a top-edge; Stokes was the bowler to suffer. It was a costly lapse.

Pujara had serious initial problems in keeping pace with Kohli when running between wickets. He was fortunate to survive two run-out attempts but settled down to play yet another innings of substance.

His game stems from a strong defence. Pujara’s mind and body were in harmony when he solidly got behind line. Yet, this innings of his was not about stonewalling. Pujara (119, 204b, 12x4, 2x6) was enterprising too, but in a judicious way.

His driving was measured with gaps being found with clinical precision. When Ansari and Rashid pitched short, they were pulled for the maximum by Pujara. Like Kohli, some of Pujara’s cover and square-drives scorched the turf. On view was an amalgam of footwork and timing as a packed off-side field was breached time and again.

It was a hard, bruising day for the Englishmen under the sun. And Broad had to grapple with a bleeding right wrist that demanded constant attention. The spinners toiled without success. There was hardly any fizz off the surface for leg-spinner Rashid and Ansari, despite flight, lacked deception. Moeen did get a few to spin but was introduced surprisingly late by Cook.

Early breakthroughs

In the morning, an old combination that feeds of one another was in play again for England. Anderson, coming in for the injured Chris Woakes, teamed up with Broad.

The lanky Broad bowled with intelligence, altering his length and making K. L. Rahul feel one outside off. The youngster, a tad tentative in his footwork, edged a good length delivery.

Murali Vijay, timing the ball sweetly until that point, succumbed to a well-directed short-pitched delivery from Anderson. Even as the batsmen are on the look-out for the swinging fuller length balls, the crafty Anderson can surprise them with the delivery that climbs into the body from short of a length.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra lost his place to debutant off-spinner Jayant Yadav. The move also reflected Kohli’s lack of belief in Mishra. This is sad considering leg-spinners are essentially ‘confidence’ bowlers.