Panesar shines but Pujara defies England with unbeaten century

Saturday, 24 November 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: As Monty Panesar made a triumphant Test match return something nagged away at England’s sense of well-being. That something was Cheteshwar Pujara and by the close of an absorbing first day in Mumbai even Panesar had to play second best to India’s new batting sensation.

Pujara has now batted for more than 15 hours without England discovering how to dismiss him, following his unbeaten double century in Ahmedabad with another hundred - and the promise of more to come - at Wankhede Stadium as he countered a turning pitch with another innings of poise and certainty.

The first new ball unveiled a story of Pujara’s watchfulness as Panesar made a jubilant return with four wickets and half India’s side were dismissed for 119. But the second new ball suggested that the batsman had emerged the stronger when to chants of Pu-ja-ra, Pu-ja-ra, he moved off 99 by pulling James Anderson’s second delivery resoundingly through square leg. It is only the second Test of a four-Test series but there is a sense in Indian cricket of a changing order. Pujara’s tranquil progress has echoed throughout the early stages of this series. There was some bounce to excite England’s pace bowlers and predictably he was tested with the short ball, but he emerged comfortably enough to suggest he will be an India batsman who can also prosper overseas. An unbroken stand of 97 with R Ashwin, whose unbeaten 60 took only 84 balls, completed India’s escape.

Anderson was inches away from having Pujara caught at point by Nick Compton, plunging forward, on 17, and he also survived a hard chance to Anderson at gully when 60, this time off Panesar. His most prolonged discomfort came on 94 when England appealed, legitimately enough, for a catch off Alastair Cook’s toe at short leg but the umpires called for TV evidence which showed that the ball had also struck the ground.