Mumbai, Nov 23: A calm and composed Cheteshwar Pujara neutralised England's early advantage with a magnificent century on the opening day of the second Test here on Friday. India closed at 266/6 in 90 overs. Pujara was 114 not out and R Ashwin unbeaten on 60.
Reeling at 119/5 at one stage, Pujara, first in the company of captain MS Dhoni and then R Ashwin, not only pulled India out of the woods but ensured that honours were even on an exciting day of Test cricket.
The 24-year-old Pujara had walked out to bat in the first over to face the third ball. And he was still going strong at the end of day, having played 279 balls and hit 10 fours. He and Ashwin have been together for an unbroken partnership of 97 runs for the seventh wicket. Ashwin completed his second Test fifty. He has hit nine boundaries in his 84-ball 60.
First, Monty Panesar (4/91) had put India in a spin on a pitch which started to take turn in the first two sessions. But in the final hours of play, the track seemed to have eased out and spinners did not get the same purchase as seen earlier.
It was a day which belonged to Pujara. Compiling his third Test hundred and second in as many matches, the right-hander showed how good a Test player he is. Pujara survived a dropped catch at slip by James Anderson on 60.
The way he handled pace in the first hour of play and the turning ball demonstrated his fine abilities of go a long way in this format.
After unbeaten scores of 206 and 41 in Ahmedabad, Pujara continued in same flow. In this series, in three visits to the crease, he has already batted for more than 15 hours and has in excess of 350 runs without being dismissed.
Tea Report: India 167/5
India were battling with their backs to the wall on a first day turning track against England. With half the side back in the pavilion, the hosts reached tea at 167/5 in 60 overs.
Pujara has shown loads of patience his his knock of 77 not out. He and captain MS Dhoni (27 not out) have started the rebuilding process and still have a lot to do in the final session of play. So far they have added 48 runs.
Between lunch and tea, India scored 80/2 in 32 overs.
In the post-lunch session, Virat Kohli was the first to go when he was snapped up by Nick Compton on the drive at cover off Monty Panesar. Soon Graeme Swann bowled Yuvraj Singh for a two-ball duck with a top delivery.
When the left-hander left the middle, India were reeling at 119/5 in 40 overs.
Lunch Report: India 87/3
England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar dismissed Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in successive overs to leave India in trouble at 87/3in 28 overs at lunch. Pujara (38) and Kohli (6) are at the crease.
Panesar, who was not picked for the first Test in Ahmedabad, made huge impact in his first few overs. It was a superb delivery which got Tendulkar bowled for eight off 12 balls. The ball pitched on the middle and turned away to clip the offstump.
Tendulkar has now been bowled four times in his last five innings. He was castled thrice in as many innings against New Zealand.
Panesar could not hide his joy as he broke into huge celebrations after getting Tendulkar. Panesar's first Test wicket was also Tendulkar, LBW in Nagpur Test in 2006.
Both of Panesar's dismissals were bowled. Sehwag (30) tried to flick a ball on legstump only to miss it and to see the wickets disturbed. The ball brushed Sehwag's pad on way to hitting the stumps.
Before Panesar struck, James Anderson had given England success off the second ball of the match. Gautam Gambhir hit the first ball to the boundary but soon returned to the pavilion in the next, falling LBW.
Pujara was solid in his 86-ball stay so far for 38. Initially, there was good bounce for English paceman and Pujara handled the short balls well. He preferred to leave the bouncers. Kohli has six to his name from 26 deliveries with a boundary.
Toss Report: India opt to bat, Harbhajan included
India won the toss and elected to bat first against England in the second Test here at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
India have made one change to their line-up. They have brought in Harbhajan Singh for the injured Umesh Yadav. So India will be playing three spinners here.
At the start of play, conditions are humid. Initially, paceman could get some assistance with the moisture in the wicket.
The Wankhede pitch has a tinge of grass but as former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said it is just a "make-up" and will soon go away. The strip is expected to assist spinners.
Virender Sehwag is playing his 100th Test today. Harbhajan is in his 99th Test and his first since August 2011 against the same opposition at Nottingham.
England made two changes. Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan have been replaced by Jonny Bairstow and Monty Panesar. Bell has returned home for the birth of his first child.
India: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Graeme Swann, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Tony Hill (New Zealand)
Third umpire: S Ravi (India)
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)