India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 23, 2012

Panesar shines but Pujara defies England


India 266 for 6 (Pujara 114*, Ashwin 60*, Panesar 4-91) v England
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

As Monty Panesar made a triumphant Test match return something nagged away at England's sense of well-being. That something was Cheteshwar Pujara and by the close of an absorbing first day in Mumbai even Panesar had to play second best to India's new batting sensation.

Pujara has now batted for more than 15 hours without England discovering how to dismiss him, following his unbeaten double century in Ahmedabad with another hundred - and the promise of more to come - at Wankhede Stadium as he countered a turning pitch with another innings of poise and certainty.

The first new ball unveiled a story of Pujara's watchfulness as Panesar made a jubilant return with four wickets and half India's side were dismissed for 119. But the second new ball suggested that the batsman had emerged the stronger when to chants of Pu-ja-ra, Pu-ja-ra, he moved off 99 by pulling James Anderson's second delivery resoundingly through square leg. It is only the second Test of a four-Test series but there is a sense in Indian cricket of a changing order.

Pujara's tranquil progress has echoed throughout the early stages of this series. There was some bounce to excite England's pace bowlers and predictably he was tested with the short ball, but he emerged comfortably enough to suggest he will be an India batsman who can also prosper overseas. An unbroken stand of 97 with R Ashwin, whose unbeaten 60 took only 84 balls, completed India's escape.

Anderson was inches away from having Pujara caught at point by Nick Compton, plunging forward, on 17, and he also survived a hard chance to Anderson at gully when 60, this time off Panesar. His most prolonged discomfort came on 94 when England appealed, legitimately enough, for a catch off Alastair Cook's toe at short leg but the umpires called for TV evidence which showed that the ball had also struck the ground.

MS Dhoni unashamedly wants Indian Test pitches to turn from the outset and the captain got just what he wanted - an old Wankhede pitch, used only three weeks ago, ragging and bouncing. It was to Indian cricket what a blatantly green seamer at Trent Bridge might be in England, a deliberate attempt to take the opposition out of their comfort zone.

"If it does not turn, I can come and criticise again," Dhoni had chirped prior to the game as he warned that he did not expect the sort of slog faced by India's spinners in Ahmedabad. There will be no angry exchanges with the groundsman, no disappointed email to the BCCI.

But if Dhoni would have found this dry, threadbare surface, with the ball going through the top on the first afternoon, much to his liking, England's spinners were uplifted by the surface, with Panesar, who, after being controversially omitted from England's Test side in Ahmedabad, ending the day with 4 for 91 in 34 overs. It was quite a collection, with Virender Sehwag, in his 100th Test, and Sachin Tendulkar bowled in successive overs.

It is rare to see Panesar and Graeme Swann in tandem and the contrast was an engrossing one: Panesar, bowling his left-arm spin with a deliberative air, as if any lapse in accuracy would startle him; Swann, forever jack the lad behind the dark glasses, his own concentration never quite overcoming the suspicion that he had just emerged from a crafty cigarette behind the bike sheds.

Swann played his part, bowling Yuvraj Singh for a second-ball duck by coming wide of the crease and straightening one, but it was Panesar's return that captured the attention. He began nervously, conceding two boundaries in his first over and initially overpitched, but soon found a pace and control that allowed him to settle.

If the removal of Sehwag was commonplace, a full delivery which bowled him off his pads as he flicked lazily to leg, his dismissal of Tendulkar was a gem, turn and bounce to strike his off stump, ensuring that there would be no rush into Churchgate Station on the Mumbai trains as the day progressed. Pujara's legside steers have yet to bring the worshippers flocking.

Sehwag had been in contented mood before the start, fielding congratulations on reaching his milestone, but his innings - 30 from 43 balls - never convinced. Twice in one over, Anderson almost defeated two uncertain half-bat pushes, Sehwag first inside-edging past leg stump and then beating second slip off the outside edge. Panesar removed him at the start of his fifth over, moving his short leg to gully and perhaps benefiting as Sehwag sensed the ball fired in at his pads represented easy pickings on the legside.

Panesar's third wicket was that of Virat Kohli. By mid-afternoon, the pitch was already turning, and with reasonable pace. A puff of dust as the ball broke through the surface was a forewarning for Kohli that his drive to short extra cover was about to end in disaster. Anderson's inswing had removed Gautam Gambhir second ball of the day. Anderson had a half-decent day; Stuart Broad did nothing to allay doubts about his worth on Indian pitches.

After their nine-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad, England had at least indicated that another lost toss would not automatically heap more misery upon them. They have never lost more than eight Tests in a calendar year, but in 2012 they have already lost seven and their shortcomings in Asia have been largely responsible.

For a side which began the year ranked as the No. 1 Test side in the world, it is a rapid reversal. With three Tests remaining in the series, their reputation is on the line. At least by selecting Panesar the balance of their side possessed some logic rather than the Englishman Abroad stereotype they had relied on in Motera, but the last hour did not go well for them. They need to find a way to break Pujara's tread.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shipu on November 26, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    Yuvraj Singh is not a test match player! India missed the trick here by not using another specialist batsman.

  • Al on November 24, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Completely agree with @Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar. Statchin is an eyesore. If he doesn't announce his retirement in this test match, our selectors should grow a backbone and drop him from the next 2 tests.

  • Srinivasan on November 24, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    While not belittling the efforts of Pujara, I find it strange that little mention is made of the effort put in by Ashwin. Pujara, as a batsman is expected to do his job whereas Ashwin, in the side primarily as a bowler, played sensibly while the top line bats failed. Let us give all concerned their due. As for Pujara, I sincerely hope we have found in him a worthy replacement to Rahul Dravid. Only time and tours of SA, Aus & Eng will tell!!

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Dar has had a shocker so far like the last Test. Good score on this Bunsen though. Someone other than Cook in the top six needs to come to the game if England is going to have a chance.

  • Sensible on November 24, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    Monty looks such a scary bowler in these conditions. His speed which is his greatest strength in such pitches, is his greatest weakness in non-responsive pitches. In those pitches, he would be carted around or safely played off at the very least. If he learns how to properly flight the ball and use it along with his quick deliveries, he could truly be a very threatening bowler in a lot of conditions. Man, we Indians are just struggling to play Monty here. #RESPECT

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    @dhanno.. dude.. read the comment clearly before replying.. dont just take words u want and make ur own meaningful sentences.. And thanks for teaching me what a troll comment is..

  • Sensible on November 24, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar - Great, so you are saying Sachin is not performing because he is not able to match his awesome average of 54.7 every year. As you pointed out, for most of the years, his average is in either high 40's, 2 60's and a 70's. Yes, he has poor average in 2006 and 2012. Now did I ever tell that Sachin is not a burden now? Of course he is but your analysis that Sachin's performance is not good because he hasn't been able to match his 54 odd average is again LAUGHABLE. Call me anything but neutrals fans will see things differently from the way you do. By the way, a lot of quality players these days average in the high 40's. Very few are in 50's mark. Remember the brutal spell which he faced against Steyn in South Africa just before the world cup? Facts are facts. Sachin was awesome but now he is not so he has to go. Just because he is playing rubbish today doesn't mean he was rubbish in the last 5 years.

  • Jitesh on November 24, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    @popcorn.. aww well doctored. why?? because the English aren't winning. Now there is a word for this kinda attitude, whining or maybe hypocrisy. The English spinners have been delivering so far. The batsmen have to do it. It's simple but maybe some logical and unbiased thinking might clear the muddle in your head and curb that instinct to criticize anything without thinking.

  • Rajaram on November 24, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    It is disgusting that India is resorting to negative tactics of DOCTORING pitches like they did in 2004,when the so -called great cricketer - curator,Polly Umrigar, made a dustbowl of a pitch against Australia. The match got over in 2 and a half days. Michael Clarke,a part time spinner, got 6 wickets for 9 runs.ICC did not censure BCCI, because they are puppets of BCCI. Worse still is the mind of this captain Dhoni, who can never win abroad,so his only alternative is to prove he is a king at home.He should learn from Tiger Pataudi,who played 4 spinners Bedi,Prasanna, Chandrasekhar,Venkataraghavan abroad - and WON. In NO OTHER COUNTRY is such blatant doctoring of pitches done,as in India.A GOOD pitch offers a GOOD contest between bat and ball, assists pacemen on Days 1 and 2, and slowly deteriorates to spin on Days 4 and 5. Check out australia, South Africa and England pitches. There they play the ganme FAIRLY.

  • sreedhar on November 24, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    @Pknn,The type of wickets you said are required in domestic cricket and not in Tests.Each team should play according to its strengths.See the fate of Srilanka it is winning neither home nor away.Also remove the two series against England & Australia,They were played when India had over the hill megastars . The sudden departure of Sehwag & Zaheer before the England tour had unsettled India.See the fate of SouthAfrica in the Adelaide test with Kallis suddenly injured. Before that India performed very well either drawing or winning the series against England,SouthAfrica,Australia etc.Did you see Unmukth Chand in World cup & Mandeep Singh's performance in India A tour of NewZealand. These guys will play everywhere and win.India has a proud record at home & It should maintain that.

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