India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 2nd day November 16, 2012

England slump after Pujara double ton


England 41 for 3 (Cook 22*, Pietersen 6*) trail India 521 for 8 dec (Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74, Swann 5-144) by 480 runs
Scorecard and ball by ball details

After the certainty of Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten double century for India, England's fallibility against spin bowling was even more painful for them to bear. India have plotted turning pitches, they opened the bowling with a spinner and in 18 overs of gathering mayhem struck three times in the closing phase of the second day. Initial evidence at least suggests that England's Asian nightmare is about to continue.

One of those three wickets was a nightwatchman - Jimmy Anderson, who prodded the left-arm spinner, Pragyan Ojha to short leg - but that was small consolation for England. Nick Compton batted reasonably securely on debut until R Ashwin, who had opened the bowling, found sharp turn to bowl him through the gate. Jonathan Trott also fell to Ashwin for a fourth-ball duck, a cast-iron push forward and another catch at short leg off bat and pad.

What a contrast this was with what had passed earlier. England knew little of Pujara before the series: a bit of a recce in a warm-up match, a few shots watched on a laptop, a provisional theory or two about how best to get him out and a worried expression or two from statisticians unable to deliver megabytes of data.

England know lots more about Pujara now. When India declared, to leave England 18 overs before the close of the second day, Pujara had batted in accomplished fashion for more eight-and-a-half hours. But they still do not have much idea how to get him out. Not on low, ponderous surfaces like this, at any rate.

When Jimmy Anderson took the first wicket by an England seamer, in the 158th over, there was an emotional argument for throwing the laptops in the skip, but England's management stared into them with the staunch, glassy-eyed futility of a touring party under enormous pressure.

The scorecard showed them that Graeme Swann, valiantly bearing an onerous responsibility as England's only specialist spinner, had maintained an immaculate line, bowling in traditional offspinner's style, to finish with 5 for 144. Swann added one more wicket on the second day, bowling MS Dhoni behind his legs, a deflection off a glove as he tried to sweep.

Pujara's progress will have had the connoisseurs purring. He played in stately and composed manner, producing a masterpiece of strategic thinking. Rahul Dravid has retired to England's relief and they have walked straight into another India batsman with an insatiable appetite for batting. It is understandable how to an Indian eye he might occasionally resemble VVS Laxman, but his mindset is pure Dravid. He bats more elegantly but, like Dravid, has no need for flourish or frippery. The man himself, looking on from the commentary box, could not fail to be mightily impressed.

Swann apart, for England there was no encouragement. The ball refused to deviate, in the air or off the ground, for a hard-pressed seam attack as India's first innings moved inexorably forward. After the Sehwag-fuelled start on the first day, India ground on, their rate slowing. By the declaration, they had added a further 198 at 2.82 runs per over. It was a day in which India's domination was not expressed noisily but seeped into England's consciousness.

Pujara had rounded off the first day by driving Jimmy Anderson crisply through mid-off for four, a satisfying finale, but one which left him on 98 not out. England sensed an opportunity.

Stuart Broad allowed him a comfortable leg-side single to move to 99, and hammed up a vociferous lbw appeal for a ball pitching outside leg; Swann bowled an intelligent maiden. But he picked off another single in Broad's next over to reach his second Test hundred and celebrated with a quiet air of contentment. When he later reached 200 by steering Anderson past gully, the crowd were ecstatic at the success of one of Gujurat's own, but Pujara struck you as the sort of level-headed man who does not dance easily in company.

His innings, characterised by subtle placement and a sober mind, was a model of restraint and orthodoxy. How England must regret Anderson's inexplicable misjudgement when Pujara was 8, dashing forward too far at mid-on as he misjudged the flight of Pujara's leading edge against Tim Bresnan. The decline in England's fielding has been marked for some time and, as Anderson showed again, it is afflicting both the best and the worst.

The most romantic story of all failed to materialise. Yuvraj Singh made a successful return to Test cricket after treatment for cancer, but there was no comeback century, that hope ending when he was unhinged by a groin-high full toss which he whacked obligingly down to long on in the fourth over of the afternoon. Patel had the good grace to look sheepish.

Yuvraj entertained, though. His skip down the pitch to strike Swann straight for six was the shot of the morning and was followed by a sweep that fell short of six by inches. Fifteen came from the over; if India broke Swann, England really were in trouble. They never did, but Yuvraj, as a left-hander, had an appetite for Patel, an inconsequential second spinner. His place at No. 6 is justified by his adroitness against spin but, in this Test, his own left-arm slows look slightly round-arm and unthreatening.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sameer on November 17, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    @ JG2704 you seem to have too many cheerleaders in your country for my liking sir.

  • John on November 17, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @A_Vacant_Slip on (November 17 2012, 08:52 AM GMT) Listen we are greater architects of our downfall than India have been. Re practice matches - Eng should maybe have scheduled some matches in SL where India would have had no control on how much spin would be bowled at England etc. Maybe it is a little unsporting but we could have done things to combat that. As for "amazing good luck to win toss" - surely the toss is (or should be) 50/50 so it's hardly amazing good luck. Not selecting Monty for such a pitch , some poor fielding and poor mental/technical methods towards playing spin are 3 key areas which have nothing to do with India

  • John on November 17, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    @sachinisawesome on (November 17 2012, 07:25 AM GMT) utter rubbish. While some of our cheerleaders may have commented about the pitch , most of us (regulars anyway) have bemoaned our inability to play spin in these conditions. And re "There was not a single comment on the pitch but all the people from other countries r only talking about pitch " - Are you sure about that?

  • John on November 17, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    @Meety on (November 17 2012, 06:38 AM GMT) re ""Never to Tour anywhere within two thousand miles of India" EVER!" - A bit OTT there. Bell should be allowed to tour anywhere in/around SC. Just don't have him on the cricket pitch

  • John on November 17, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh on (November 17 2012, 01:49 AM GMT) No huge surprise to many inside the UK either

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Cheteshwar Pujara was born on Jan 25,1988.He is strongly lucky 2 and 7.His birth number is 7.His fate number is 34(3+4=7).To have the same birth number and fate number gives a strong personality.Birth number and fate number of Roger Federer is 8.He turns 25 next year(2+5=7). That will be one of the most significant period in his career and life. His double century was on 16th(1+6=7).

  • Sharon on November 17, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Well India should be proud of itself today; deny opposition chance to have practice game against spin bowler opposition on normal India pitch. Then create "designer pitch" at Ahmedabad and have amazing good luck to win toss. This is India at it's best. Bravo India whole world respect the spirit here. I for one will now disregard this charade of a series.

  • Sameer on November 17, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    I used to think that Anderson, bresnon and broad are bowlers with big heart but it was really painful to see their shoulder drop after first 5 overs. As a fast bowler u should have a big heart to run in over after over even if u are not getting any purchase from the wicket. I don't see any bowler today who does that. Broad was almost crying and anderson didn't even want to bowl. Now I have new found respect for Indian fast bowlers. They are criticized so much yet they keep their cool and not cry. And I feel Ishant is the only bowler who will bowl all day with a big heart not that I am implying that he is a great bowler. I miss bowlers like Mcgrath and Wasim. They neven used to cry over pitch. They used to make things happen that's the reason they are considered great.

  • Sameer on November 17, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    Some of the comments that I have been reading by English fans are really disheartening. And I really respect Indian fans now. When India lost to England we really bashed our players. There was not a single comment on the pitch but all the people from other countries r only talking about pitch. I am enjoying this match and infact SA vs Aus match was really boring.

  • FirstName on November 17, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    All England whiners, your "perfect" pitches didn't have anything for spinners. Even Narine who normally spins the ball a mile did not get any. Swann gets wickets there because he rarely uses spin to get wickets. Now how are England pitches sporting and Indian pitches not so?

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