Nottinghamshire 221 for 3 (Patel 78*, Pujara 67) trail Gloucestershire 303 (Roderick 96) by 82 runs
After a tiring first day at Bristol, Nottinghamshire's bowlers had the pleasure of putting their feet up as their top order chipped away at a Gloucestershire total of 303 that required equal parts patience and graft. While Notts displayed both qualities, it was the class of Samit Patel and Cheteshwar Pujara, who put on 146 for the third wicket, that proved the difference between the two teams on day two.
This could potentially be Pujara's last match for Nottinghamshire. While he is in England until the end of the month, his stint at Trent Bridge is only as a replacement for Australian quick James Pattinson, who is away with the national side for a Champions Trophy campaign that ended today with defeat to England. Pattinson played no part in the tournament.
The assumption is that Pattinson will return: his original deal with the club runs until the end of June and he has voiced his desire to honour that and add to his 20 wickets so far at an average of 11.15. However, Cricket Australia would not be the first board to wrap one of their prized possessions in cotton wool ahead of an intense period of cricket that includes a home Ashes series. Unofficially, Pujara is on standby.
Even if Pujara does not get the emergency call, he still has plans to honour before he returns home. One of them is as guest of honour at a Bollywood night at Nottingham's Colwick Hall - a marquee function as part of Patel's benefit year. The two have struck up a friendship in Pujara's short time at the club and one that flourished out in the middle today.
While the running at times made them look like strangers - Pujara's urgency to rotate the strike early was at odds with Patel's carefree attitude - the pair dovetailed nicely for most of the day, bringing up a century partnership in 41.3 overs. Despite Pujara carrying the majority of Test runs and caps between the two, it was Patel who looked the more refined batsman. Pujara admitted so himself at stumps: "I found it tough to start but Samit came out and was hitting the ball beautifully," he said, with an admiration in his voice that many around the county share.
Pujara was still on 26 when Patel brought up his half-century, only his second of the season, from 119 balls. The twenties, for some reason, brought a prolonged period of angst for Pujara - after getting to 20 off 62 balls, a four off the left-arm spin of Graeme van Burren took him to 31 off his 103rd. Credit should go to Gloucestershire for plugging away valiantly. They built up pressure where they could, with Mustard employing two midwickets and staggered cover fielders at times to cut off various angles. Fair play to the Gloucestershire bowlers for turning up to work every day faced with pitches like this.
That pressure nearly told when Patel, who at times bores himself out when things get too easy, tried to guide to third man and ended up nicking through to Gareth Roderick on 52. Luckily for him, the catch was fumbled and he was able to make his merry way into the evening session and safely to stumps. After tea, a crisp four off Miles through cover point took Pujara past fifty for the second time in his Nottinghamshire career, from 132 balls.
By then, Gloucestershire had grown weary: thoughts perhaps wandering to the changing room and the ice bath or well-earned refreshment that awaited them. Now was the time for Pujara and Patel to fill their boots. But it was in looking to take advantage of the hosts' lull that Pujara lost his wicket. Of all the experiences he has taken from county cricket, hitting a half-volley from Jack Taylor straight to Kieran Noema-Barnett at cover will rank as one of the least pleasurable. He threatened to take a chunk out of the pitch before he stormed off. Naturally, he was livid.
"I felt comfortable out there and although it wasn't easy to score runs, it is tough for the bowlers to get you out. That is why I am disappointed to have got out as I did late on. When I came in, we spoke about rotating the strike and keeping the board moving because it was difficult to score fours."
He was given a hearty round of applause, though that'll be no consolation to a batsman with 39 first-class hundreds to his name. Still, he acknowledged a crowd that by that time in the evening session had dwindled to a few members, two stag dos and a handful of onlookers from the flats at the Ashley Down Road End.
Those Gloucestershire-inclined arrived this morning with hopes of seeing Gareth Roderick make it to three figures. The sighs when he was bowled on 96 by Luke Wood, attempting to find those four runs through midwicket, reverberated around the ground. Still, his 215-ball stay on his comeback to first-team cricket had kept his side above water, even if they were floundering one ball later, when Wood sent David Payne back for a golden duck, after hitting the top of middle and leg. Sighs soon turned to groans.
But a cameo of 47 from Miles gave them the cheer they came for. What was best about Miles' innings was the game awareness: the more aggressive in a partnership of 48 with Roderick that began yesterday evening, at which point his sole ambition had been to make it to stumps. Upon losing Roderick and Payne, he naturally assumed duties as senior batsman. Chris Liddle, first-class average sub-12, was kept from the strike as much as possible. He made sure to look out for his team.
At the start of the 110th over - the last in which bonus points could be picked up - Gloucestershire were 291 for 9, needing to get to 300 to achieve two points from their innings. It would be Miles or nothing, as Nottinghamshire dropped four men to the leg-side fence, with an inspired Wood ensuring there would be nothing for Miles to drive. Yet, somehow, the right-hander managed to drive aerially over cover to move the score to 295, before a top edge off the penultimate delivery of the over made it 299. Then, with every fielder within spitting distance of the bat, he tipped and ran to the other end for that precious extra point. Not long after, the innings came to an end - Miles trapped LBW by Patel. The sighs, much like the cloud, returned to local gloom.
Nottinghamshire's start to their first innings, though watchful, was not as laboured as Gloucestershire's, and openers Steven Mullaney and Jake Libby made their way to 72 for no loss in the 25th over. If there was one similarity, it was the way both openers fell within moments of each other: Mullaney tempted into an expansive shot through cover that ended up in the hands of David Payne at mid-on, and Libby nicking off to Miles an over later.
However, the class of Patel and Pujara ensured the deficit at the end of day two was just 82 and, with Michael Lumb, Riki Wessels and Chris Read still to come, Nottinghamshire will be aiming to bat big and bat once.