Nottingham, May 26 - 28, 2017, Specsavers County Championship Division Two
(f/o) 149 & 231

Notts won by an innings and 50 runs


Pujara reacquaints himself with what he does best

Nottinghamshire went for an overseas batsman to replace a bowler and Cheteshwar Pujara showed his class with a century

Nottinghamshire 357 for 5 (Lumb 117, Pujara 112) v Gloucestershire
Nottinghamshire's decision to replace an in-form Test bowler with a batsman after James Pattinson's call-up to Australia's Champions Trophy squad might have been assessed as a gamble, but after Cheteshwar Pujara distinguished his home debut for the county with a century on a day when Michael Lumb also reached three figures it would seem slightly absurd to suggest anything of the sort.
Pattinson's 20 wickets were a key factor in Nottinghamshire starting the season with three straight wins, although Pujara, of course, is not just any batsman. With an average of 51.32 in 48 Test matches for India his quality is not in doubt and even after a 2016-17 season that comprised 13 Tests his appetite for more cricket is plainly as sharp as ever. Given that those 13 Tests yielded four centuries and eight half-centuries and four series victories you would expect nothing less.
Overlooked by the IPL franchises for the third consecutive year, the vacancy at Trent Bridge has come at just the right time. After previous stints with Derbyshire and Yorkshire in county cricket, where he found the challenge of cricket in English conditions much to his liking, he needed little persuasion to take up the offer.
He would have seen it as an opportunity, too, to reacquaint himself with how it feels to make runs in England ahead of next summer's international series here, especially after enduring a relatively lean time on India's last visit, in 2014.
Pujara did make a second-innings 55 in the drawn opening Test at Trent Bridge that summer, which will have added a little something to the attraction of a run of games here and, in the warmest conditions of the summer so far against a weakened Gloucestershire attack, he looked at home almost from the outset, stroking five boundaries from the first 26 deliveries he faced, including two in a row off the left-armer Matt Taylor down the ground and through mid-on that were exquisitely timed.
Gloucestershire actually bowled commendably well in the morning session, when they had surprised more than a few in the crowd by opting to bowl under a clear sky in already building heat. They are without Liam Norwell and David Payne through injury, depriving them of both their leading wicket-takers, yet a return of three wickets for 122 made it an even contest at that stage.
Steven Mullaney rather threw his wicket away, clipping straight into the hands of midwicket after making 35 in what appeared to be one-day mode, but both Jake Libby and Samit Patel could console themselves with having succumbed to a good ball. Pujara was tested at times, too, with Gloucestershire twice convinced they had him caught behind.
There was some grass on the pitch and word from the home dressing room - from Luke Fletcher, at least - was that the Nottinghamshire attack might have fancied it, too, even after the energy-sapping two days and a half they spent in the field in Cardiff last week.
Yet as the sun reached its highest point in the sky and the sweet aroma of sun cream filled the air on the well populated upper deck of the Radcliffe Road stand it did begin to feel increasingly like the day full of runs that had been anticipated.
The pivotal moment, perhaps, came shortly after lunch when Will Tavaré, at point, dropped a ludicrously straightforward catch from an undisputedly awful shot from Lumb off Craig Miles when the batsman had made only 12 and looked decidedly scratchy.
Had it stuck Nottinghamshire would have been 151 for 4. It did not, though, Tavaré watching the ball into his hands but forgetting to close his fingers around it. And how Lumb made him pay.
He and Pujara added 185 before the fourth wicket did fall, the latter caught behind somewhat tamely off a defensive push. Out for 2 on his county debut in Cardiff, he had put himself well in the black with 14 boundaries, pretty much all of them hit flat along the floor.
Lumb went on to complete a century of his own, pulling Miles behind square for his 17th boundary, his first hundred for a year in four-day cricket and one he celebrated in much the same fashion as he did against Warwickshire last May, when his hundred ended a century drought in first class games spanning 32 months.
He was caught at point after adding three more boundaries, rewarding Miles for his perseverance with the new ball in trying to tempt a loose shot.
Nottinghamshire already look to have ensured that their unbeaten run continues. If they can now take 20 wickets in these conditions without Pattinson they will feel they made the right decision.

Gloucs Innings
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Specsavers County Championship Division Two