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Pujara plays himself into form

Cheteshwar Pujara demonstrated his well-being for next week's first Investec Test as India recovered strongly from early losses on day two of their final warm-up match against Derbyshire.

Two wickets in five balls between Mark Turner and first-team debutant Ben Cotton left India 18 for two, in reply to 326 for five declared at the 3aaa County Ground.

But a characteristically unhurried 81 from Pujara gradually took control in stands of 63 with Virat Kohli and 119 alongside Mahendra Singh Dhoni - before all-rounder Stuart Binny, uncapped at Test level, consolidated with 81 not out as India were able to declare at stumps on 341 for six.

The tourists appeared to show their hand for the five-Test series against England, with no place for Gautam Gambhir in the top six.

Turner was significantly the most experienced of the home seam attack on the middle day, and he was the first wicket-taker too - trapping Murali Vijay lbw on the back foot.

Turner's new-ball partner Cotton made an impressive start and was rewarded in a spell of 8-4-6-1 with the wicket of India's other opener, Shikhar Dhawan - who pushed forward and edged behind to also exit for six.

Cheteshwar Pujara confirms his increasingly impressive batting form with a fluent innings of 81 that recovered the loss of two early wickets

It took Kohli 10 balls to get off the mark, with a single to cover off Cotton.

India's poster boy had a moment of concern on 18 when - in the first over from Greg Cork, teenage son of former England bowler Dominic - he edged low but marginally short of Chesney Hughes at slip.

There were no further concerns as India's third-wicket pair closed out the morning, but Kohli did not last long after lunch.

Twenty-year-old Cotton, back for more, struck again and bagged a highly-prized scalp too as Kohli, on 36, tried to leave a tight line but instead chopped the ball down on to off stump.

Dhoni surprisingly promoted himself to number five, to good effect, as his unorthodox attack proved an ideal complement to Pujara.

The India number three's tried-and-trusted method is to take few risks and wait for bowlers to tire.

Cotton duly did so as, having bowled 11 overs for eight runs, he conceded three off-side fours in his 12th to Pujara - who brought up his 98-ball half-century soon afterwards.

Stuart Binny's unbeaten 81 allows the tourists to declare on 341 for six at stumps, a first-innings lead of 15, at the 3aaa County Ground

Dhoni took one liberty too many with David Wainwright, who deceived the India captain in the flight to bowl him leg-stump on the charge for 46.

Pujara then promptly retired himself out, for the second match in succession after doing so for 57 at Leicester last week.

It therefore fell to Ravindra Jadeja and Binny to push for parity or better.

The left-hander was dropped at slip by Hughes off Cork on nought and went on to dominate a partnership of 88 until he fell for 45 to an outstanding head-high diving catch by Turner at short extra-cover off Wainwright.

Derbyshire decided against a second new ball, but could not stop Binny accelerating proceedings in an 89-ball half-century.

It was he too, with some late hitting off Wainwright, who ensured first-innings honours after all for the tourists and a head start for the final day when 90 more overs are scheduled in an even split for both teams.

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