India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day March 3, 2013

Pujara and Vijay pummel Australia


India 311 for 1 (Pujara 162*, Vijay 129*) lead Australia 237 for 9 dec by 74 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The mercury touched 35C during the Hyderabad afternoon and large swathes of the Uppal stadium are roofless, but that didn't stop the 28,000-strong Sunday crowd from breaking into Mexican waves as M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara ran amok with an unbroken 294-run stand, which put India in command of the second Test.

The day also showcased the variety Test cricket allows, with India's scoring-rate jumping dramatically in every session. They were restricted to 49 runs in the morning, Pujara and Vijay then became more expansive to pick off 106 runs in the second session, before going berserk post-tea to pile on 151 runs against a wilting Australia.

The disgruntled murmurs over Australia's team selection for this match will only grow louder after Glenn Maxwell, who batted at No. 8, was introduced into the attack as late as the 47th over, and was easily dealt with - his 10 overs were caned for 55 runs. His inclusion had plenty of parallels with the ill-fated gamble on Cameron White - another Victoria batsman who could bowl a bit and was used as a spinner batting at No. 8 - during the unsuccessful 2008 India tour.

The other spinner, Xavier Doherty, posed a bit more of a threat, though he too fared as poorly as most Australian spinners have in India over the years. The visitors' well-documented worries over the strength of their spin department would have increased when he began with two friendly full tosses on leg stump, but he got a few deliveries to rip off the pitch and turn sharply past the outside edge.

Both Pujara and Vijay were sure-footed against the spinners, skipping down the track to crash the ball through covers or whip to the leg side. They didn't allow the spinners to settle either - when Doherty returned to bowl after lunch, his second delivery was powered over mid-off for six by Vijay.

Vijay had kept those sort of flamboyant shots to a minimum early in his innings. India's dominance on the day came on the back of a watchful morning session, in which both batsmen looked to play straight, shelving the cross-batted shots that had cost Australia dearly on the first day.

After twin failures in Chennai, Vijay needed a big innings to push his case for the remaining Tests. In the first few overs of the day, he chased a couple of short-and-wide deliveries, prompting the usual concerns over his temperament for Test cricket, before buckling down and playing more patiently. It was only after he was well set that his stylish flicks and natural aggression re-appeared.

With this century, Vijay could become India's first-choice opener because the selectors' patience with Virender Sehwag will be running low after he nicked Peter Siddle to fall for 6 - he now has only one 50-plus score in 13 innings.

Sehwag's early dismissal was offset by the increasingly reassuring presence of Pujara at No. 3. Though he injured his knee diving to complete a risky single early in his innings, hampering his running between the wickets, he showed his hunger for runs. He didn't shirk the quick singles, and despite hobbling frequently he again displayed the concentration and technique that has led to his Test-match skills being talked up in recent years.

The other standout feature of Pujara's career has been his penchant for big scores. While his frequent double-and triple-centuries in domestic cricket have been pooh-poohed a bit for being made on the flat tracks of Rajkot, even at the Test level, this was his third 150-plus score in the five times he has passed 50.

He repeatedly opened the face to guide the quicks to the third-man boundary, and stepped out to muscle the spinners through cover. He has been typecast as a Test player, but as the day progressed he showed off his repertoire of strokes, speeding from 100 to 150 in just 42 deliveries, getting to that milestone with an audacious hook for six off Siddle.

With the partnership growing, Australia looked short of wicket-taking options. James Pattinson and Siddle were unwavering in the morning but had little joy with the old ball, and Moises Henriques acquitted himself well as a back-up seamer though not as one who could pick up a clutch of wickets.

Michael Clarke let the game drift after tea, pinning all his hopes on the second new ball. India rattled off 102 in the first 17 overs of the final session and even when the quicks took the new ball, India's momentum didn't subside. There was a chance in the penultimate over of the day, when Doherty forced Pujara to nick, but the ball deflected off Matthew Wade's pad to evade Clarke at first slip. Clarke was left pounding the turf in frustration as Australia completed a day to forget.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Al on March 4, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    Now that we have found good youngsters to bat for India, it's time to get rid of Tendulkar and Sehwag. Those 2 non-performers have been living on their past laurels for past 2-3 years. It's time to drop them and give a chance to in-form batsmen like Jaffer/Chand for Sehwag, and Rayudu/Tiwary for Tendulkar.

  • Harmon on March 4, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    @Nampally: Ref: "...After averaging 87 against a much stronger bowling England bowling, how can anyone bench him...". They are two diff formats, the team is diff in the two formats, the requirements and slots available are diff in the two formats. India needed a #1 in tests after Dravid went and CP was able to fill that gap. In ODIs there are Gambhir/Rahane/Kohli/Raina/Yuvraj in the team and after that we have MSD & RJ. For many months now I have been asking you which of these should be dropped to see CP playing but you just can't come up with an answer to it and then you go elsewhere and begin repeating your stupid comments. CP can only play in place of Gambhir but why should he be asked to open? That would be cruel. If MSD were to do that then you would say MSD did that deliberately to sabotage his ODI career.

    You are very prematurely saying CP is among the best in the world. Way too early.

    Btw, using your logic, RJ has 3 FC 300s and so he too has a solid claim to play tests.

  • Graham on March 4, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    As an Australian fan - I'm going to concur with the Indian fans here there is nothing wrong with this pitch it is your typical Indian wicket that will turn square day 4 and 5. I had some issue with the first test wicket as the pitch was manufactured but this one is an exceptional wicket.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    To Nasir Uddin,

    What kind of pitches do you suggest we do?

    BTW most Indians are pleasantly surprised themselves at the turn of events so far. They did not expect this kind of effort, i am sure...

    By the way, congratulations, Pakistan have won the T20 against SA...

  • Mahesh on March 4, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    Bangladesh would have been a better challenge for India, some years ago there used to be lot of talk about australian domestic structure, that is best and systematic , where is the best structure now????? they cant even have a international quality spinner, such a no contest series this and a waste of time for cricket fans

  • Ashqar on March 4, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Shane Warne and stuart Mcgill shouldn't born in the same time.....!!!!

  • Rohit on March 4, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    First of all i would like to congrates Men In Blue.....three questions i would like to ask from australian managment: 1. Why nathan lyon is out of the team...??? 2. Why Clarke declared the inning before getting all out...??? 3. Main question i would like to ask why Clarke himself dint go for the bowling???? Very it team australia of 2011-2012????

  • disco on March 4, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    I am confident that we can dismiss either vj or pujara by stumps then we will have exposed their middle order

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    @indians.. Don't be over confident because its all about the pitch its dam dead pitch made by indian cricket board..

  • Pal on March 4, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    I dont know why Ind Cricket Selection Committee is giving many chances to Sehwag. I am better than Sehwag. I can bat well atleast in 2 to 3 innings in 10 matches. But sehwag....Oh my god(only one out of 10). Ind is playing with 10 players only. we need a good batsman. These commentators they support Sehwag, becz they knew getting sehwags wicket is easy and the opponent team can put pressure on Ind team....We dont want to see Sehwag any more