When put to test Cheteshwar Pujara generally comes out with flying colours. He spent nearly four-and-half-hours and made a watchful 87 (184b, 11x4). In the process he also helped left-hander Hiken Shah compile an undefeated 84 (248m, 190b, 9x4, 1x6), on the second day of the three-day game at the D.Y. Patil Sports Stadium here on Sunday.
Though Pujara’s place in the Indian team is not in doubt, especially after his match-winning century against New Zealand recently, the selectors were keen that he got some meaningful introduction to the England attack before the first Test at Motera.
“I was looking forward to this match; I have not played the England bowlers. I got a chance to hang out there, get used to their actions and tactics,” said Pujara
Using the opportunity
When his chance came to bat for Mumbai ‘A’, Pujara got his eye in and made the most of the opportunity facing England’s seam attack that had James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions and the spin attack of Panesar, Samit Patel and Joe Root.
Shikhar Dhawan seemed to have got the measure of the England attack when he fell to Root’s off- break. Pujara’s splendid effort and his partnership with Shah took the local side to 232 for four, with the home team captain falling victim to the second new ball.
Pujara paid attention to technical details, showed the powers of concentration, excelled in forward and backfoot play and except for a blemish when he offered a catch (on 22) to Anderson at slip off left-arm spinner Panesar, it was a typical confident and solid knock from the Saurashtra right-hander.
He had a huge responsibility to provide stability to Mumbai ‘A’ which had a largely inexperienced line-up. Suryakumar Yadav and Shah have impressed in first-class matches in the last two years, but they needed someone like Dhawan or Pujara to bat around with against an experienced English attack.
After the fall of Bhavin Thakkar who scored his first run of the 33rd ball he faced and Dhawan in the 19th over the Mumbai ‘A’ middle-order cut out all frills and blocked much of the deliveries that came from the seamers and spinners. Pujara took nearly three-and-a-quarter hours to reach his half-century. Without being spectacular he and Shah added 163 runs in about 58 overs.
England: J. Root c N. Patil (jr) b Suryakumar Yadav 28, N. Compton b Waingankar 1, J. Trott c Sufiyan Shaikh b Javed Khan 28, I. Bell c Sufiyan Shaikh b Waingankar 4, E. Morgan lbw b Thakur 76, J. Bairstow c Dhawan b Javed Khan 118, S. Patel c Sufiyan Shaikh b Waingankar 60, S. Broad lbw b Thakur 6, G. Onions c Sufiyan Shaikh b Thakur 0, J. Anderson (not out) 5; Extras (b-5, lb-3, nb-9, w-2): 19; Total (for nine wkts. decl in 93 overs): 345.
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-55, 3-64, 4-66, 5-222, 6-329, 7-339, 8-339, 9-345.
Mumbai ‘A’ bowling: Waingankar 25-8-72-3, Thakur 20-4-53-3, Javed Khan 17-1-75-2, Dhawan 12-2-49-0, Suryakumar Yadav 6-1-30-1, Shoaib Shaikh 3-0-14-0, Patil (jr) 5-0-28-0, Thakkar 5-0-16-0.
Mumbai ‘A’: B. Thakkar c Bairstow b Onions 5, S. Dhawan c Anderson b Root 27, C. Pujara c Anderson b Panesar 87, Hiken Shah (batting) 84, Suryakumar Yadav c Bairstow b Anderson 17; Extras (b-6, lb-2, nb-3, w-1): 12: Total (for four wkts. in 80.4 overs): 232.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-47, 3-210, 4-232.
England bowling: Anderson 13.4-5-36-1, Broad 10-2-19-0, Onions 12-2-34-1, Panesar 20-4-47-1, Root 13-3-43-1, Patel 9-1-34-0, Trott 3-0-11-0.