England Left In A Spin After Pujara Double-Century
India stormed into an assuming position at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on day two of the first Test against England, after piling up the runs and then strangling the visitors' top order.
After declaring their first innings on 521 for eight, in which Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on 206, they snared three English wickets to leave the tourists tottering at 41 for three.
Yuvraj Singh also registered a half-century, hitting 74 and although England rallied, Graeme Swann picking up a five-wicket haul, they closed some 480 runs behind and under pressure with two of their top batsmen back in the pavilion as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha ensured it was comprehensively India's day.
So much so that bet365 now make India 2/9 favourites to complete victory, the draw 10/3 and England a huge 40/1 to effect a remarkable turnaroud.
Pujara and Yuvraj resumed the Indian innings in the morning, at 323 for four, and took the score to 410 for four by lunch. They added 87 runs for no loss in the opening session, as England bowlers tolled fruitlessly on a pitch that had slowed down further.
It became apparent that scoring quickly, as in the first session of the match, when Virender Sehwag went berserk wouldn’t be possible any longer, and the Indian batsmen, especially Pujara, were ready to grind.
Yuvraj completed his half-century in the morning session, his runs coming off 91 balls. He went to score 74 runs in all, with six fours and two sixes, and raised visions of a fairytale hundred on his return to Test cricket.
It wasn’t meant to be as immediately after the lunch break he was tempted by a Samit Patel full toss and holed out in the deep. In his dismissal England found some hope and struck regularly in the second and third sessions, just as they had done on the first day.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5), Ashwin (23) and Zaheer Khan (7) were the next wickets to fall, as India searched for quick runs in vain.
Meanwhile, Pujara held up one end tightly and crossed the 150-run mark in 130th over of the innings. He rallied on, as the English attack continued to bother him as little as on day one of the match, despite the rough marks and the slow turn now being clearly afforded by the track.
He went to tea just short of the 200-run mark, but immediately afterwards got to his maiden double hundred (in only his sixth Test match). He remained unbeaten on 206, off 389 balls, including 21 hits to the fence.
For England, Graeme Swann was the most successful - and tired - bowler, with figures of five for 144 in 51 overs. James Anderson (1-75), Samit Patel (1-96) and Kevin Pietersen (1-25) took a wicket apiece. Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan bowled 43 wicketless overs between them, conceding 170 runs.
As England began their innings, it was a question of when Dhoni would deploy his spinners. And the crowd at Motera didn’t have to wait long as Ashwin was handed the new ball.
For 13 overs and 26 runs, the English openers, Alastair Cook and Nick Compton defied the odds. Zaheer Khan went close a couple of times as he called on all of his experience to bowl a super opening spell of nought for six in five overs, including three maidens.
It was Ashwin who struck first, bowling Compton (9) in the 14th over. James Anderson (2) was sent in as the nightwatchman, a dangerous move on such a pitch, and it proved to be a bad one when Ojha had him caught at forward short leg.
Five balls later, Jonathan Trott was out caught the same way for a five-ball duck. At 30 for three, Pietersen came out and stayed there till the end. He was unbeaten on six runs while Cook was 22 not out at the other end.
Ashwin (2-21) and Ojha (1-3) bowled 12 overs out of 18 available and showed precisely why they could create a lot of trouble for the English batsmen over the next three days - that is if the match lasts that long.
Samit Patel, on whether it has been proven that England cannot play spin: "No, I don’t agree. Everyone has a different method of negotiating spin and of course the Indians are very good players, especially on such tracks. We have our own methods and I am sure we will showcase them over the next couple of days.
"Starting with Cook and KP, we can fight back tomorrow. But you have got to give credit where it’s due. The Indians batted superbly on a pitch that we didn’t know much about and they are in a great position."
Cheteshwar Pujara, on whether the pitch is a good Test match wicket: "There is nothing wrong with the pitch. It is a good pitch for Test cricket. We’ve got three wickets, the ball is turning. We have utilised the conditions better than England.
"Initially my concern was Graeme Swann because I hadn’t faced him before. But after I faced a couple of overs against him I felt that I could manage."
© Cricket World 2012
Open an account with bet365 today and qualify for up to £200 in free bets with our fantastic 100% Deposit Bonus.