Scorecard | First day's report | Sehwag's fitness | Dream start
Quality batting against a deficient attack strengthened India’s hold on the second Test match against Australia on Sunday, as Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay earned themselves old-school hundreds to wrench a 74-run lead for the home team.
India’s ‘two’ and ‘three’ put their heads down and saw through an attritional first session (49 runs), laying the groundwork for relatively faster progress after lunch (106 runs), and breaking into a positive gallop in the third phase of play, that yielded 151 in just 30 overs, as both batsmen completed hundreds. India were on 311 for one at close of play.
Pujara’s unbeaten 162 was his fourth in Tests and contained 25 boundaries. His only six came late in the day, a scintillating hook off Peter Siddle that brought the young batsman one-fifty. Vijay's unconquered 129, his second Test hundred, was no less contoured, although the Chennai batsman was somewhat out-scored in the latter end of their massive 294-run partnership, an India record against Australia for the second wicket.
The fast bowlers were meticulously seen off, the spinners taken apart, and the part-timers capitalised on. As the day drew to a close, the flow of runs was arrested by nothing.: not bowling changes, not the new ball. The two were severe against the slower bowlers, especially off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who was taken for 55 runs in ten overs.
Pujara stood out versus James Pattinson, taking eight fours in 41 runs scored against Australia's top pacer and twice striking a series of boundaries. Vijay found Xavier Doherty's left-arm spin to his liking, to the tune of 52 runs, and curbed his attacking instincts long enough to reap the benefits in the latter stages.
It began after Virender Sehwag’s always simmering, rarely combusting presence was extinguished five overs into the morning. For the two hours between Sehwag’s fall (caught behind trying to defend against Siddle) and lunch, Vijay and Pujara embarked on a watchful vigil, scoring very little – just forty-nine – yet not allowing bowlers half a chance at their wickets.
By lunch, Vijay had batted 106 balls for 29 and the restraints were promptly removed when play resumed – thanks in part to some wayward Aussie bowling. Pujara led the show by taking three boundaries in a Pattinson over: width answered with a firm cut through point, length met with a drive through cover, and bounce negotiated via a delicate steer to third man.
Vijay cut and paddle swept when the chances were offered. The batsmen were neck and neck for the most part, having broken for tea on 73 apiece, but Pujara raced ahead when play resumed. He swiveled and pulled Moises Henriques and made room to pummel Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, as a session of determined quietude broke into a scamper.
The off-spinning all-rounder took yet more punishment from Vijay – a paddle sweep and a strike butchered over mid-on stood out – before Pujara’s majestic off-drive off the IPL millionaire brought India’s deficit to under 100. Moments before the break, Doherty got one to spin away from Vijay (then 71), who half-edged, half-guided it wide off Michael Clarke at slip.
Pujara did the heft of the scoring after lunch, racing to a hundred and then crossing one-fifty. Vijay followed suit, reaching three figures with a four lofted over cover off Doherty. David Warner’s Shane Warne-styled leg-spin was brought on just before the second new ball and was greeted with three fours on the leg-side by Pujara.
Clarke had no answers on a day when Australia's inexperienced line-up were given a first-hand experience of stories they'd have often been told, but would have never endured. May it serve them well on future tours; this one appears to be slightly beyond redress.