Mumbai A v England XI, Mumbai, 2nd day November 4, 2012

Pujara, Shah make England sweat


Mumbai A 232 for 4 (Pujara 87, Shah 84*) trail England XI 345 for 9 dec (Bairstow 118, Morgan 76, Patel 60) by 113 runs

A week after arriving in India for what has been billed as the "final frontier" for the England Test team, their bowlers were given the chance to bowl to a potential top-order India batsman. They learnt how much a missed opportunity in the field could cost them as Cheteshwar Pujara, one of two contenders for the No. 3 slot in India's batting line-up, made most of his life to score 87 for Mumbai A on the second day of the warm-up game at the Dr DY Patil Sports Stadium.

Thanks to Pujara's accomplished but understated innings and his 163-run association for the third wicket with left-hander Hiken Shah, Mumbai A ended the day at 232 for 4 in response to England XI's 343 for 9 declared.

Despite being a Saurashtra player, Pujara was asked to join the Mumbai A team along with Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan on the recommendation of the national selection panel. While the newly married Dhawan failed to celebrate by making the opportunity count, Pujara achieved his primary objective - that of spending some quality time at the crease - during his 262-minute knock.

England, on the other hand, were at less than 100%, with the seamers preferring to bowl within themselves for most of the day. To add to their difficulties, Stuart Broad did not bowl after tea and was sent for a scan on a heel injury after the close of play.

The tourists' spin duo of Monty Panesar and part-time offspinner Joe Root could hardly extract anything off a slow wicket. As a result, after dismissing both the openers before lunch, England XI went wicketless for almost four hours. The most disappointing aspect for England was their slack fielding, which included a missed catch off Pujara's edge early on in the second session.

Had James Anderson not dropped the "genuine edge" - as admitted by the batsman - off Panesar's bowling, England could have been more aggressive in conditions that were of little help to bowlers. Mumbai A were 60 for 2 then, with Pujara on 22. But by the time Pujara was dismissed 13 runs short of a century in an identical manner minutes before stumps, the damage had been done.

While Pujara resisted playing shots for a better part of his innings, the cuts and drives started flowing once he crossed fifty. He took 140 balls to reach his half-century but the next 37 runs came off just 44 balls.

"The pitch was on the slower side, but that's going to be the case in Indian conditions," Pujara said. "This match gave me a chance to get used to the actions of the England bowlers, have a look at their strengths, what kind of swing they're trying to bowl against me and what kind of strategy they would use. I could get a little idea about these things. It won't be the same in Tests though, because the intensity will be on the higher side. England's fielding was not quite up to the mark in this match but it will be much better in the Tests.

"Patience is my strength. The runs I've scored in this practice match were not the key. I wanted to be at the crease as long as possible and have a look at all the bowlers."

With focus firmly on Pujara's battle against the England attack, Shah played a fluent knock. Despite making his first-class debut five seasons ago, the 27-year-old has failed to establish himself as a permanent fixture in the Mumbai middle order but this knock could well be a step forward in helping establish him in the Mumbai line-up.

An inauspicious start with the bat set the tone for England XI for the rest of the day, as they added just seven runs for the loss of three wickets to their overnight 338 for 6, before declaring. The early breakthroughs with the ball were made by Graham Onions, seeking to tug the selectors by the sleeve after Steven Finn's injury, and Root but late wickets for Panesar and Anderson couldn't prevent it from being England's toughest day on tour so far.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tony on November 5, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    My heart goes out for Hiken Shah! hope he gets a permanant place in Ranji in some other state and a place in IPL too.

  • Mark on November 5, 2012, 11:08 GMT

    @JG, @Villagebacksmith - In 2010 it looked like Stuart Broad had made the breakthrough and would be pushing is case to bat at 7 or, maybe, even at 6 at some time in the future. Since that 176 he has averaged 24.1 with the bat (18.7 in the last year), albeit with 3x50 (in 18 Tests!), but he has taken 75 wickets @ 26.8, which is a decent effort, but is now batting at 9, behind Bres. It's a pity, because were he able to continue to average around 30, as Alan Knott did, it adds a lot of flexibility to the selection of bowlers. As it is, I am not sure that a potential tail of Broad, Swann, Anderson, Monty and Finn would be a match-winner were we to go with 5 specialist bowlers instead of Samit + four.

  • Damo on November 5, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    I think I'd rather see Bresnan in full time over Broad. He has not been great for some time now and has a habit of losing the plot when conditions arent favourable or things are not going his way. Whilst he appeared successful against Pakistan in the UAE I dont think the Pakstan batting line up was particularly strong where as the Indian batting line up is far better. He will definately struggle against world class batsmen in their home conditions. In my opinion Broad needs to go back to county cricket for a while and sort out his bowling and batting.

  • John on November 5, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    @VillageBlacksmith on (November 04 2012, 21:17 PM GMT) I'm a big Broad fan but agree with you. If he was doing special things inbetween his injuries then fair enough keep him out there but esp if we're only ever going to play 4 bowlers with the possibility of only 2 pacemen then Broad is a liability. As for Bell - don't you know he took 4 catches the other day and averages 111 vs WI , but seriously I think he was something like 6th best batsman vs SL , 7th best vs SA and even worse - averaging less than 10 - vs Pakistan and his last test series in India wasn't exactly fruitful either. They probably are 2 of our golden boys who will forever get picked regardless of how they are playing

  • CS on November 5, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    good show by Pujara - he looks like someone who has the makings of a good test player..

    as for england.. its an interesting conundrum.. damned if you play samit and damned if you dont..

    Should be an interesting series.

  • Mathew on November 5, 2012, 3:15 GMT

    Eng team still looks very good. This should be a really good test series. I suppose the really big question is how will Eng batsman fair against quality spin. If they do learn from mistakes in the past this could actually be a real struggle for Ind. If not Ind never ending home advantage may prove to be too much. Cook/Trott/KP need to have a good series.

  • John on November 5, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    There's always plenty of people ready to read far too much into tour wramup matches one way or the other. Such games are about getting used to conditions and trying different combinations and the like. They cannot be used either way to predict how a tour will go. They can offer encouragement or discouragement but nothing more. That said, there's not a great deal of encouragement to be had for us England fans from this match so far. Another bowler possibly lost and none of the bowlers having much success against what could not be considered strong opposition. Maybe there's not much in the pitch but then our batsmen should have done better in that case. The question of who to open with Cook is no closer to being resolved either. It's even hard to take too much from the good batting performances there have been because the conditions are so different to what will be encountered in the Test series. I'm hoping that it's just a lack of intensity that will change when the real battle begins.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2012, 23:47 GMT

    Put ur bets on England avoiding follow on in the test series:)

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2012, 22:08 GMT

    to S-A-M-1994 - this is not an Indian A side, but its Mumbai A side, which means this team features bench players of Mumbai guess you mean the future of England looks very bleak

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Oh my god, this is a second string Mumbai side with just one test capped player and still England struggle. This is just the curtain raiser of the coming days for England in India,

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