Pujara and Shah frustrate tourists
An attritional 163-run partnership between India’s Test number three Cheteshwar Pujara and Hiken Shah held up England on the second day of three against Mumbai A, who closed on 232 for four in reply to 345 for nine declared at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy.
Pujara and Shah batted together for 57 and a half overs, making 87 and 84 not out respectively, after their team had been 47 for two following the loss of the opening batsmen.
Resuming on 338 for six this morning, the tourists batted on for seven overs. Once the declaration came, Graham Onions had Bahvin Thakkar cheaply caught behind and, in the over after lunch, Joe Root’s occasional off-spin forced Shikhar Dhawan to edge to slip on 27.
England were then frustrated by the third-wicket duo, who scored painfully slowly in the afternoon session but, having each brought up a fifty from 140 balls, gradually upped the tempo after tea.
Pujara - who was reprieved on 22 when James Anderson could not hold a tough slip chance off Monty Panesar - proved especially adept off his pads, and effective in defence, but his most telling skill was risk avoidance.
Stand-in captain Stuart Broad, who went for a scan on his left heel after experiencing discomfort late in the day that persuaded him not to bowl after tea, increasingly favoured spin over seam, deploying himself in short spells and both Anderson and Onions sparingly too.
Panesar finally turned one sharply from a perfect length to have the 24-year-old right-hander with five Test caps held at slip by Anderson who, in the final over of the day, had Mumbai A captain Suryakumar Yadav caught behind with the second new ball to herald stumps.
Anderson had found early swing when Mumbai A batted, and Broad moved fluidly in a series of short spells, yet it was first-change Onions who got the first breakthrough.
Thakkar needed 33 deliveries to get off the mark, eventually clipping Anderson off his legs for a single. Emboldened, he drove the next delivery he faced to the cover boundary off Onions, only to go caught behind immediately afterwards to a length ball that the batsman made it clear he did not think he had hit.
Root’s dismissal of Dhawan with a delivery that gripped and bounced was a bonus for England. There was turn available too for Panesar, and Broad was persuaded to stick increasingly to spin with Samit Patel also in action.
But save for the sharp chance to Anderson off Panesar, Pujara in particular was suitably assured in a patient stand with Shah that reminded the tourists how hard wicket-taking can be in India.
This morning Broad was lbw for his overnight six, playing across Shardul Thakur, and at the other end next ball Kshemal Waingankar took his wicket tally to three when Patel edged an outswinger to the wicketkeeper to go for 60.
Thakur also finished with three, Onions mystified to be given out caught behind for nought after apparently being completely beaten by a delivery that swung back into him and kept low. Broad immediately declared.