Cheteshwar Pujara came to India's rescue yet again after Monty Panesar left the India top order in tatters on the first day of the second Test.
India ended the opening day on 266 for six against England, clawing their way back from 119 for five to post a total of some substance, thanks mainly to an unbeaten century from Pujara (114). R Ashwin played an equally crucial 60 n.o. to ensure India ended their day strong.
Panesar, picked for the second Test in place of Tim Bresnan, was the standout bowler for England picking up four wickets for 91 runs, which included the prized scalps of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
M.S. Dhoni won the toss again and chose to bat on a track, like the India captain wanted, that turned and bounced right from the word go.
Gautam Gambhir put India in a spot of bother in just the second ball of the innings, getting himself caught in front of the wicket off Jimmy Anderson's bowling, after the left-hander had begun the innings with a boundary.
After that, it was all about Panesar and Pujara, as the English left-armer ran over the Indian top order with some brilliant bowling, while Pujara stayed strong at the other end.
Sehwag, playing in his 100th Test, was on course for a big score, looking reasonably comfortable for the first 15 overs. However, Panesar struck the crucial blow, with Sehwag missing the ball completely while trying to work the ball onto the offside, and seeing the timber disturbed.
The hometown boy Sachin Tendulkar came out, and struck a good-looking four off Panersar's next over, much to the delight of the reasonable crowd. Three balls later, though, the Little Master was also bowled, playing around a peach of an off-spinner that struck the top of off stump.
Pujara, meanwhile, was looking comfortable, rarely threatened and happy to play the ball on its merit. Virat Kohli stuck around for a while, but again gave his wicket away, driving a full delivery uppishly to cover, with Nick Compton completing the catch off Panesar's bowling.
Yuvraj Singh did not last too long, clean bowled off a nice delivery from Graeme Swann, his only wicket of the innings so far.
Dhoni gave decent company to Pujara, with the Indian captain managing a 64-ball 29, before falling prey to Panesar - Swann taking the catch at gully after the ball bounced and hit the shoulder of Dhoni's bat.
England were now looking for the kill, with the score reading 169 for six, but Ashwin had other ideas. The off-spinner is proving himself to be invaluable down the order, as he comfortably hung around with the ever-impressive Pujara.
The Saurashtra man got to his hundred in the 81st over, off the second delivery after the second new ball was taken, pulling Anderson for a four while on 99.
India then saw off the day, ending up on 266, with England left with much work to do to break the partnership (97), and particularly the impregnable defenses of Pujara.
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