Pujara smashes double century, England in trouble

Ahmedabad, Nov 16: Cheteshwar Pujara smashed his maiden double century to enable India declare at 521 for eight and by the close of play on the second day of the first cricket Test England lost three wickets for 41 runs at the Sardar Patel Stadium here Friday.

Offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin quickly removed debutant Nick Compton (9) and Jonathan Trott (0) and became the fastest Indian to pick 50 wickets in Tests and at the other end Pragyan Ojha sent back night−watchman James Anderson. Ashwin reached the 50−wicket mark in only eight Tests.

England captain Alistair Cook managed to survive the tense closing moments of the day’s play. He and his remaining batsmen now face a 480−run deficit, the first priority being to get 281 more runs to avoid a follow−on.

The Englishmen have to cope with Ashwin and Ojha who extracted prodigious spin from a track deteriorating with each passing hour.

The spotlight was on Pujara before the Indian spinners came on the scene. The Saurashtra batsman became the 17th Indian to hit a double century (206 not out). He was well supported by Yuvraj Singh (74), playing his first Test in a year.

India resumed the day at 323 for four. Pujara and Yuvraj batted solidly to go for lunch at 410 for four, the pair carrying their fifth−wicket stand to 127, as England went wicketless in the first session.

Left−handed Yuvraj, playing his first Test match after battling a rare germ cell cancer, was in great touch and Pujara, too, batted fluently.

Yuvraj had only himself to blame for not reaching the three−figure−mark. He miscued a rank full toss from Samit Patel and holed out at long on. He hit six fours and two sixes in an innings of critical value to his career.

Pujara found Ashwin a willing ally to help him reach his double century in their 66−run seventh−wicket partnership. Pujara carefully got to the important milestone in only his sixth Test, hitting 21 well executed fours.

The only positive to come out of the day’s play for the English was Graeme Swann’s five−wicket haul. The offspinner, who took all the four wickets to fall on the first day, removed Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to record the 13th five−wicket haul of his career.

IANS