Visakhapatnam: Indeed, an enthralling day of Test cricket at Visakhapatnam with India taking Day 1 honours thanks to tons from Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
The ever impressive Pujara reached his third successive Test hundred in the most unlikeliest of fashions, with a six. He didn't last long after hitting his 10th hundred, but before leaving the field, he already produced a 226-run third-wicket stand with his skipper.
Kohli finally managed to kill the English ghost with an imperious looking hundred, and he was unbeaten on 151 off 241 runs. After the fall of Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane produced a good looking 68-run stand, but the Mumbai batsman once again failed to make it count.
For England, James Anderson took three wickets, as many have expected. Returning from a long injury lay-off, the celebrated quick accounted for Murali Vijay, Pujara and Rahane. His new ball partner, Stuart Broad took the other wicket, that of Lokesh Rahul as spin failed to make a mark on the first day's play.
The coming together of Kohli and Pujara was the turning point today after England removed both the openers early in the innings. But Alastair Cook's team failed to capitalise on the good start provided by Anderson and Broad. At one point, India were 22/2 after Kohli opted to bat first after winning toss.
India ended the day on 317/4.
STUMPS DAY 1
Over 90 | Score 317/4 | (Kohli 151; Ashwin 1)
New ball taken after the end of 88th over. With the new ball, England hoped to end the day on a high, employing James Anderson immediately. And happened, Ajinkya Rahane failed to read to swinging delivery, to offer a low catch to Jonny Bairstow.
WICKET: Ajinkya Rahane c Jonny Bairstow b James Anderson 23 (61b)
That happened off the third ball of the 89th over.
Not your typical night watchman for India as Ravichandran Ashwin joined skipper Virat Kohli in the centre.
Stuart Broad bowled the last over, a maiden as Ashwin blocked everything with a straight bat. A straight drive, off the fourth ball, almost put Kohli in a spot.
India added another 23 runs in the last ten overs, and day's run-rate a healthy 3.52.
Over 85 | Score 304/3 | (Kohli 146; Rahane 17)
India crossed the 300-run mark with scheduled five overs' play left in the day. Virat Kohli also five shy of reaching his 150, and Ajinkya Rahane bury keeping the other end safe.
Over 81 | Score 296/3 | (Kohli 140; Rahane 15)
Virat Kohli survived a review off the last ball of 80th over, bowled by Moeen Ali. Umpires call helped the skipper's cause.
India four runs shy off 300, and Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane inched closer to a 50-run stand.
New ball is available.
Over 76 | Score 282/3 | (Kohli 130; Rahane 12)
India have increased the tempo, scoring quick runs. In the last ten overs, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have added 39 more runs.
Meanwhile, England captain Alastair Cook is off the field, and Joe Root is in charge.
Over 72 | Score 264/3 | (Kohli 121; Rahane 2)
Despite the fall of Cheteshwar Puajara, India continued to maintain a good run rate at 3.50, with Virat Kohli keeping the scoreboard ticking. In the last two overs, India have added nine runs.
For England, James Anderson has been the most successful. In his 14 overs' spell, the pacer has taken two wickets, those of Murali Vijay and Pujara.
Over 67 | Score 248/3 | (Kohli 107; Rahane 0)
Very unbecoming of Cheteshwar Pujara. Probably lost of concentration, and wicket to James Anderson and England. Che chased a short and wide delivery from Anderson, and ended up offering a relatively easy catch, behind the wicket.
WICKET: Cheteshwar Pujara c Jonny Bairstow b James Anderson 119 (204b)
That happened off the fourth ball of 67th over, and the wicket gave Anderson his 465th Test scalp. After Che-Kohli 226-run stand, Ajinkya Rahane now joined skipper in the centre.
22 overs' play left in the day.
Over 65 | Score 236/2 | (Pujara 109, Kohli 102)
In the last ten overs, India have added another 28 runs with both the batsmen reaching their respective centuries.
Cheteshwar Pujara, continuing his great run, reached the 100-run mark in the most unlikeliest of fashions, by hitting a six. Then, skipper Virat Kohli notched up his own hundred with a double, off the bowling of his 'nemesis' James Anderson.
Interestingly, Kohli's average at Vizag is close to 100, after having scored 118,117,99 and 65 before today.
Their stand is now worth 214 from exact 60 overs.
In the process, Che also reached his 3000 Test runs, in 67 innings. He is the joint fifth fastest to do so, alongsides greats Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. For the record, Virender Sehwad scored those runs in just 55 innings.
Over 63 | Score 226/2 | (Pujara 108*, Kohli 102*)
After Pujara, it was time for Kohli to complete century. The skipper brought his 14th Test century, second against England, with a punch off James Anderson through covers. Not to forget, he was dropped on 56 off Ben Stokes' bowling by Adil Rashid. It has been a brilliant innings nonethless.
Over 60 | Score 226/2 | (Pujara 106*, Kohli 98*)
Pujara has reached his tenth test ton, his third consecutive Test century in as many matches. He brought the century in style by hitting Adil Rashid for a six over deep midwicket.
Over 56.2 | Score 139/2 | (Pujara 97*, Kohli 91*)
TEA: Brilliant batting by these two. The session ended after a dog interrupted the proceedings. Kohli and Pujara have added 118 runs in this session without losing a wicket. Both the batsmen are nearing their centuries and Cook would be disappointed as his bowlers failed to capitalise on the advantage of removing the openers early.
Over 43 | Score 139/2 | (Pujara 56*, Kohli 61*)
Stokes created a big opportunity for India when he bowled a bouncer at Virat Kohli, who mistimed it towards deep fine leg. Adil Rashid got under the ball but dropped it at the last moment. The skipper was batting on 56 and that can prove to be a very costly miss.
Over 40 | Score 126/2 | (Pujara 50*, Kohli 56*)
Kohli was the first one to reach fifty. He was unbeaten on 49 in the second innings at Rajkot and he just continued from there on. Great knock by the skipper'sin his 50th Test match. Pujara followed with yet another fifty and the duo has now added 100-run stand for third wicket. None of the English bowlers have trouble these two so far.
Over 35 | Score 108/2 | (Pujara 40*, Kohli 48*)
Immediately after lunch, Kohli started off the second session with a boundary against Anderson. Cook would be a worried skipper at the moment as these two have rebuilt the innings nicely after the loss of openers.
Over 28 | Score 92/2 | (Pujara 37*, Kohli 35*)
LUNCH: Pujara and Kohli have added unbeaten after losing Rahul and Vijay early in the innings. The partnership for the third wicket is now worth 70 runs. Both Pujara and Kohli should go on to hig big knocks from here onwards, now that they are set. Cook would want one of his bowlers to get him an early breakthrough in the second session.
Over 25 | Score 83/2 | (Pujara 31*, Kohli 31*)
Pujara and Kohli continue to add a good stand for third wicket. There was an over in between where Pujara could have been run-out on two occasions as a result of some mix up. But barring that, these two have been batting brilliantly. India need a big stand from these two.
Over 5 | Score 22/2 | (Pujara 2*)
Anderson, who replaced Woakes for this Test, made his presence felt early in the innings as he surprised Murali Vijay with a well directed bouncer. It hit the batsman on the gloves and went straight to Ben Stokes at gully.
M Vijay c Stokes b Anderson 20 (21b)
Over 2 | Score 8/1 | (Vijay 6*, Pujara 2*)
Stuart Broad gave England an early breakthrough to the visitors as Lokesh Rahul edged one towards slips where Ben Stokes held on to a good catch. Rahul, who was making a comeback in the Test squad after recovering from an injury, couldn't do much. Cheteshwar Pujara is the new man in.
KL Rahul c Stokes b Broad 0 (5b)
Changes for India: Hosts have made two changes. Lokesh Rahul has replaced Murali Vijay while Jayant Yadav has replaced Amit Mishra.
Change for England: Cook has made just one change where he has replaced Chris Woakes with James Anderson.
Toss: Virat Kohli has won the toss and decided to bat first. Two changes for India. Jayant Yadav has been handed over his debut cap. Lokesh Rahul has replaced Gautam Gambhir.
Following an unsatisfactory performance in 1st Test against England, the Indian squad travel to Vishakhapatnam to take on the Alastair Cook and Co. in second Test of the 5-match Test series.
Indian spinners' failure in Rajkot did raise a few questions on Anil Kumble's over dependence on slow bowlers to claim wickets and also on those bowlers' dependence on rank-turning pitches to produce desired results.
Studying the nature of pitch wisely will be crucial behind India's bowling combination after they picked three spinners and two seamers in 1st Test.
BCCI curator Kasturi Sriram earlier revealed that unlike the Rajkot wicket, the 22-yard strip to be provided for the second Test against England "won't have much grass" with turn being expected from second day onwards.
KL Rahul is all but certain to partner Murali Vijay for opening spot barring any pre-match upsets, with Gautam Gambhir to be dropped to bench.
Veteran England seamer Jimmy Anderson's comeback on final XI is still clouded as there might be concerns on his fitness but with Chris Woakes nursing knee problem, the former might feature in the squad if he manages to prove fitness levels.
Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya will also be hopeful of being included by coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli after India's plans with the ball in Rajkot didn't yield desired results.
Toss once again will be crucial as both Virat Kohli and Alastair Cook would want to bat first on a wicket that will most likely offer runs on Day 1.
Venue: ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Vizag
Time: 09:30 AM IST
TV Schedule: Star Sports Network
Live Streaming: hotstar.com and Hotstar app
Probable Starting XI:
1 KL Rahul, 2 M Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Karun Nair/Hardik Pandya, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 Ravindra Jadeja, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ishant Sharma
1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Haseeb Hameed, 3 Joe Root, 4 Ben Duckett, 5 Moeen Ali, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Zafar Ansari, 11 Stuart Broad