Derbyshire v Indians, Tour match, Derby, 2nd day July 2, 2014

Pujara eases into Test mode


Indians 341 for 6 dec (Pujara 81, Binny 81*) lead Derbyshire 326 for 5 dec (Durston 95, Godleman 67*, Jadeja 2-27) by 15 runs

It might have been a low-intensity nearly-an-exhibition match against the 2nd XI of the second-worst team in county cricket this year, and the Indians might have spread their energies over the actual game, nets, gym and medical requirements, but someone forgot to tell Cheteshwar Pujara.

India's No. 3, and one of their two most important batsmen in the Tests, batted as if in a Test match, paying due respect to accurate deliveries before batting more freely as the innings progresses, scoring 81 to take the Indians to 341 for 6 in their 91 overs in response to Derbyshire's 326 for 5. Pujara retired himself out so others could get a hit; he is yet to be dismissed by a bowler on this tour after he retired-out for 57 against Leicestershire.

Pujara came in after the early fall of the openers, and hardly played an incorrect shot in his 131-ball stay, which included 13 fours. There were the drives in the V down the ground, one crunchy boundary through cover, wristy whips off the pad, and the powerful cut.

Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Stuart Binny managed to spend decent amounts of time at the wicket, with Kohli looking as tuned in as Pujara before edging one onto the stumps when trying to leave it. Dhoni, Jadeja and Binny scratched around a bit before looking comfortable.

Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay scored 6 each of 26 balls, but you would not imagine the team management saw anything that would put Gautam Gambhir ahead of either of them. They did leave the ball well during their partnership before Vijay was ruled lbw against Mark Turner although he appeared to hold up his bat before he reluctantly walked off.

Dhawan was beaten twice outside off, going for the drive, before a poke finally took the edge, off the bowling of the accurate Ben Cotton, whose figures at one point read 11-5-8-2.

Kohli and Pujara will hope they are not walking out within the first hour come Trent Bridge, but they suggested they might be well equipped should that happen. Both built their innings solidly, getting their eye in before branching out. Pujara was the first one to show intent, getting off the mark with a straight-driven four. Kohli took 10 balls to open his account with a pushed single into covers, but soon picked up boundaries through an off drive and an on drive. Just before lunch, Pujara whipped one to leg to bring up fifty for the stand, which was dominated by Kohli's 32.

Kohli did not add much after lunch, and Dhoni surprised by pushing himself, Jadeja and Binny ahead of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. The three had not batted at Grace Road, either. Even as Pujara moved along serenely and solidly, Dhoni batted in an interesting fashion.

A balanced batsman who plays normally in limited-overs cricket, Dhoni somehow feels the need to walk down the pitch when he has his whites on in order to counter the movement. Here he did that to almost every delivery until he had the medium-pacers bowling short, which he could pull and hook. It remains to be seen if this is going to be Dhoni's game plan against quicker and more-skilled Test bowlers, with stakes raised.

Four runs short of his fifty, Dhoni gave left-arm spinner David Wainwright the charge, was deceived, and bowled. Jadeja came in, and should have been dismissed immediately when he opened the face to a shortish delivery to give the slips catching practice. Chesney Hughes, though, dropped him, and was witness to a few powerful cut shots and a few mistimed lofts as Jadeja helped himself to 45.

Binny, who had come in to replace Jadeja, got hit on the pads a few times, looked to be playing with his hands too hard early in the innings, but displayed a few attractive shots once he settled down. He remained unbeaten on 81 off 111 deliveries, hitting two sixes and nine fours.

The playing conditions decided upon in the match dictate both the sides declare their first innings after a day's play each, and split the third day down the middle. It makes the third day interesting because the Indians get to bowl again, and we get to see if Mohammad Shami has recovered from his calf strain to be able to get some overs into his legs.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on July 4, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    @Greatest_Game- Sadly Dhoni wont include Gambhir, Also, would have loved PKumar,Yadav and Mishra's inclusion for a change from the mediocre bowlers he keeps picking. Do you see any change in the team except Zak's(due to fitness). Dhoni would have played him all 5 Tests,even a half fit. Yeah, we"ll see almost the same team since the SA and NZ Series. The common denominators in the team's failures are never even dropped for one match to remind them of its worth and you see the results.How stubborn can you get with these selections and the same tactics? PKumar,Yadav,Jad,Mishra, Pandey/PSingh would have been perfect.But asking for too much to include better bowlers.All Dhoni picks is his "Experience" bowlers Ishant,Ashwin and a wild card Binny. Pressure on Bhuvi this time,Its always upto Kohli,Pujara,Rahane to score big runs and chase huge totals.How discouraging it'd be for deserving bowlers,seeing the same bunch of bowlers getting picked even after their dismal performances again&again

  • Rahul on July 4, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    @linguboy-Ishant sharma had remarkable figures of 5-50-0 in his 1st game, in a County Match, against the Worst County team in England,that too a second string one. Surely he arrived in a grand fashion,in which only he can. Tell me more about his no balls and his predictability at 130 kph ?What does he give to the team except Experience?A flash in the pan good spell doesnt mean he has bowled better in a game.He went from a good spell to an absolute worst spell of bowling you'll see in a matter of Innings. Enlighten me.Ishant bowls better than which bowler in the world ?A serious question.When was the last time he was dropped to be reminded of a place in the Indian team or a bowler was given as long a rope as he has been? 55 Tests averaging close to 40,would have played more than 10 tests in any other team.55 is mindboggling.Why shouldn't other bowlers be tried out ?Yadav/PKumar are miles ahead of him.I've lost all hope in India due to Dhoni's strange picks over these years.

  • Rahul on July 4, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    @linguboy- Keep dreaming in a Parallel universe and keep fantasizing about Ishant,Binny and Ashwin's performances. Ish has played 55 Tests still struggles to seam a ball & predictable with short of a length at a lower pace than Bhuvi.Averagind close to 40. Flash in the pan spells on a super green pitch doesn't prove anything.Thats how he has survived and ofcourse Dhoni overlooking his stats everytime.Ishant leading any attack is laughable. Ashwin ?Sigh.Home pitches,Duminy bowled better than him in SA. Dont get me started with Ashwin's bowling,B'desh has better spinners than Ashwin.Why should I care about his batting?We need bowlers who can take wickets.His stats overseas are beyond a mess. I still dont support binny inclusion. He's a batsmen,who bowls a bit.Is dhoni even serious? Yadav/PKumar/PSingh are dropped & Ish/Binny/Ash will play. Do a poll for Eng players/fans all of them would love to face Ish/Ash/Binny. Sigh

  • Rahul on July 4, 2014, 3:58 GMT

    @ Prashanth Narasimhan Ashokan - Ashwin handle pressure ? Tell me more about it. He was dropped from the last 3 Overseas tests,whats the point of picking him in a 5 test series ? Check his record overseas in NZ/SA and his bowling average will be sky rocketing,in the hundreds. Thats is quite high. As I said,Duminy had a better series with the ball than him. And Ashwin is quite ineffective in Asia as well,get smashed all round the park,ofcourse WT20 was the Exception. But compare the Asia Cup and WT20 Mishra was the better bowler,after he was brought back by Kohli in Asia Cup and then had to picked by Dhoni for WT20 on that basis. How many overs did Ashwin bowl in Practice games ? And he was smashed by the lowest county teams of england. Whats the harm in trying a leg spinner ? Ashwin contributed nothing in the overseas games,couldnt't pick one wicket on a 5th Day pitch at Jo'burg. We have to look beyond him. Again check his record,beyond repair overseas. He needs Indian pitches to play.

  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    @Criclover316- You can't compare Ashwin and Mishra. Mishra was ineffective the last time he toured England and got whacked all over the park. He did bat well that one innings, but we all know Ashwin is a way better batsman. Mishra was good in the Asia Cup, but so was Ashwin. And in the WT20, Ashwin bettered Mishra. So you seem to totally ignore Ashwin's performance in those tourneys where you said Mishra was good. Of course, those we spinning conditions, but Mishra had been miserable in England as well. So Ashwin is always a better choice than Mishra, as Ashwin can also handle pressure better. If Mishra gets whacked, he simply starts bowling fast and gets whacked even more. You can't bring in Harbhajan either, as he is struggling even in Indian conditions. Frankly, India is having spin issues and of the lot, Jadeja and Ashwin are the best bet. I still think Ashwin should be used ahead of Jadeja. But that won't happen.

  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 17:30 GMT

    So finally my team:

    We can't say India batting is stronger than bowling in these conditions. It is true only in Indian conditions.

    So, Idea is both the departments should be strengthened. Ideally,my team would be:

    Ghambir, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Dhoni, Jadeja, Binny, Bhuvneswar, Pankaj singh, Shami

  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    My XI for first test: Vijay...Dhawan....Pujara...Kohli....Rahane......Rohit.....Dhoni....Jadeja/Ashwin.... Bhuvi....Shami.......Ishant/Varun

  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    If I have to pick up based on the performances in these 2 practice matches My playing XI would be : Gambhir,Shikhar/Vijay, Kohli,Pujara,Rahane,Binny,Dhoni,Jadeja,Bhuvi,Shami,Pankaj Singh

  • sathish on July 3, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    @ Jose Puliampatta Vijay was in exclusion list yesterday, am i right??? yeah we change personal each and every match but no one should ask you right??? What did Gambhir do for his Inclusion because you excluded Dhawan right??? what did Ashwin do wrong for his exclusion??? Ishant had gone for 10rpo in 1st match but you want him now??? 4-0-41-0. didn't you say Ishant should be excluded at that time??? If Ashwin didn't bowl enough overs to judge him who's fault is that?? Don't change your stance according to each and every innings. I am following some comments here and they are just for the purpose of criticizing rather than analyzing and its downright pathetic.

  • Dummy4 on July 3, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    my playing XI Dhawan, Vijay Pujara, kohli Rahane Binny Dhoni JAdeja PAnkaj Bhuvi Shami ....

    Seamers - Bhuvi - can get you early wickets with his swing

    PAnkaj - Can extract bounce from good length and also he is ready to go..

    Shami - can get wickets with good seam bowling (he is geuine seam bowler after javagal srinath)

    Binny - you never know his days are going good .....he could be Sanjay bangar of 2002 tour...can get you wickets before lunch tea or end of days play

    JAdeja is good enough to get you couple of wickets in each inning with his left arm flipper or with footmarks ...

    with this attack dhoni can rotate bowlers and also our batting become but stronger with binny and JAdeja (3 first triple century ..i know it was a joke) but still he can hit ...

    Dhoni has to play his natural game just like gilchrist which he accepted in his recent interview ...better late thn never .....

    England team is not going well...cook is under immense pressure ....grab them

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