At the DY Patil Stadium on Sunday, England got a feel of things to come in the four-match Test series. Two talented batsmen — one has made the No 3 spot in Team India his own for the time being and the other is hoping for another decent season with Mumbai — frustrated the visitors to no end.
Cheteshwar Pujara (87, 184 balls, 11x4), in terrific form this season, got perfect batting practice against the bowlers he’ll face extensively over the next few weeks. The Saurashtra ace found an able ally in left-hander Hiken Shah and the pair added 163 for the third wicket in 57.3 overs as Mumbai ‘A’, in reply to England’s 345/9 decl after 34 minutes in the morning, ended the day on 232/4. The 27-year-old Shah, with centuries in each of his last three innings, looks good for another one. He was batting on 84 (190 balls, 9x4, 1x6) when stumps were drawn.
Pujara and Shah looked to occupy the crease rather than score fast. Joining hands at 47/2 after Bhavin Thakkar was adjudged caught behind and Shikhar Dhawan was held at slip off off-spinner Joe Root, the duo stayed put at the crease. They scored at a snail’s pace, rightly so as they were not hard-pressed to score quick.
“Whatever runs I score doesn’t matter. I wanted good practice, stay positive and look at all their bowlers,” Pujara said. “To me, the knock was important as I had not faced any of the English bowlers before. I wanted to get used to their action, strengths, strategies, etc. I have got a little bit of idea now and scoring some runs against them helped.”
Pujara had his share of luck, though. Dropped on 22 by James Anderson at first slip off Monty Panesar, he perished to the same combination but not before he had got a very good look at the English bowlers. Left-arm spinner Panesar was the best English bowler on the day. He tied down Pujara and Shah, bowled with different actions to get adequate purchase from the pitch that was clearly on the slower side. Aiming to return to the Test XI, the 30-year-old bowled better than Samit Patel, who is the other contender for the second spinner’s slot. Turning and creating doubt in the batsmen’s mind, Panesar was unlucky on a few occasions. But with figures of 1/47 from 20 overs, Panesar made a statement of intent.
England 1st innings (overnight 338/6): S Patel c Sufiyan S b Waingankar 60, S Broad lbw b S Thakur 6, G Onions c Sufiyan S b S Thakur 0, J Anderson 5 not out, M Panesar did not bat
Extras: (5B, LB3, 2W, NB9) 19
Total: (for 9 wkts decl, 93 overs) 345
Fall of wickets: 6-329 (84.1 ov, Bairstow), 7-339 (88.6 ov, Broad), 8-339 (89.1 ov, Patel), 9-345 (92.6 ov, Onions)
Bowling: K Waingankar 25-8-72-3 (7NB), S Thakur 20-4-53-3 (W1), J Khan 17-1-75-2, S Dhawan 12-2-49-0, S Yadav 6-1-30-1, Shoaib Shaikh 3-0-14-0 (NB2), N Patil (Jr) 5-0-28-0, B Thakkar 5-0-16-0 (W1)
Mumbai ‘A’ 1st innings: B Thakkar c Bairstow b Onions 5, S Dhawan c Anderson b Root 27, C Pujara c Anderson b Panesar 87, H Shah 84 batting, S Yadav c Bairstow b Anderson 17
Extras: (6B, 2LB, 1W, 3NB) 12
Total: (for 4 wkts, 80.4 overs) 232
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (11.1 ov, Thakkar), 2-47 (18.5 ov, Dhawan), 3-210 (76.2 ov, Pujara), 4-232 (80.4 ov, Yadav)
Bowling: J Anderson 13.4-5-36-1, S Broad 10-2-19-0, G Onions 12-2-34-1 (3NB, 1W), M Panesar 20-4-47-1, J Root 13-3-43-1, S Patel 9-1-34-0, J Trott 3-0-11-0