India v England | Kohli-Pujara put hosts in control after initial tumble

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© BCCI Media

India v England | Kohli-Pujara put hosts in control after initial tumble

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SportsCafe Desk


Centuries from Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara put India in control on the first day of the 2nd Test at Visakhapatnam. India ended the day at 317/4 after winning the toss and deciding to bat first on a wicket which has deteriorated as the day had progressed with Kohli remaining unbeaten at 151.

Brief Scores: India 317/4 in 90 overs (Kohli 151*, Pujara 119; Anderson 3/44, Broad 1/39)

On a track that was expected to turn more than that of Rajkot, Virat Kohli won the crucial toss and didn’t take a second to decide to bat first. Although, English skipper Alastair Cook looked a bit disappointed after losing the toss, his side got off to an excellent start courtesy the experienced pace duo of Stuart Broad and comeback man James Anderson.

KL Rahul, who made a comeback after a hamstring injury, couldn’t make it count as he poked a good length delivery wide outside off stump into the safe hands of Ben Stokes for a five-ball duck. The early wicket loss of his partner couldn’t affect Murali Vijay though, as he smashed four beautiful boundaries off Anderson and Broad to release the pressures from his shoulder. But, a well-directed bouncer from Anderson was sufficient to send him back to the hut when the scorecard read only 22.

With India placed at a precarious position at 22/2, skipper Virat Kohli joined hands with Cheteshwar Pujara to rebuild the innings. The wicket looked like a batting beauty, and the duo were not troubled much by the Englishmen.

The most striking aspect of the session was Virat pulling Anderson's bouncers many times to fine-leg - the same bowler and delivery that saw him dismissed many times in his horrible England tour, a couple of years ago. When Stokes tried to apply the same formula to lure the Indian skipper, Kohli hit him to mid-wicket with absolute disdain.

England introduced spin in the 11th over, but they weren’t able to extract much turn. It allowed the duo to settle down and play even against the turn without much fear, as Kohli did when he smashed Ansari over mid-on to bring up a half-century stand.

Although the batting was largely solid, the pair countered some nervous moments while running between the wickets. Pujara survived a close run-out opportunity in the 18th over when he just about made it back with a dive after a mix-up. Two balls later, the confusion hadn’t dissipated as he lost his bat midway on the pitch before running back.

England melts under heavy pressure

If the honors of the first session went to both the teams, the second session saw the dominance of two men- Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. They toyed with the English bowlers to add 188 more runs in the post-lunch session to put pressure on the visitors.

While Kohli painted a picture perfect of a classic batsman, Pujara raised the ante by taking the spinners apart. He pulled Ansari for a six over deep mid-wicket and then stepped out to drive the next ball down the ground for a four. After that, he again danced down the track to drive Rashid to the long-off boundary.

India were at 210 for 2 in 56.2 overs, when a dog wandered into the ground and disturbed the proceedings. Security personnel failed to take him out soon, and the umpires decided to call for an early tea with Pujara on 97 and Kohli on 91.

Finally, England breakthrough the Indian resistance

Almost uncharacteristically, Pujara completed his century with a huge six over mid-wicket off Rashid. Kohli, on the other hand, was a lot more patient in his 90s and took almost 8 balls to go from 98 to his 100, and that too arrived with a gentle push through the off-side off Anderson in the 63rd over.

England, finally, got the breakthrough they were so desperately looking for. After hitting Anderson for a boundary with a lovely drive through the offside, Pujara lost his concentration in the very next delivery. He chased a short delivery outside the off-stump and managed to get a thick top edge, which was gobbled up by Bairstow. On a usual day, Pujara would have left that ball.

At the other end, Kohli survived a review-scare as well. In the last ball of the 80th over, the Indian skipper tried a reverse sweep and was beaten by the ball’s trajectory. The umpire gave him not out, but England opted to review the call. The replay, however, showed that the umpire was correct, just about, as the ball was just edging the leg stump.

The spinners began to extract a lot more turn in the final session with the ball even keeping low on a lot of occasions. The likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would have rubbed their hands in glee looking at the turn Moeen Ali and Rashid were able to extract from the wicket.

India suffered a big blow at the end of the session, though. England took the new ball with two overs left for the day and Anderson removed Ajinkya Rahane with a delightful out-swinger. Ashwin has joined Kohli at the crease as took India ended the day at 317/4.

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