Vijay, Pujara take India to 206/2

Vijay, Pujara take India to 206/2
Opener Murali Vijay and Chetehswar Pujara feasted on a below par Bangladesh bowling attack as India raced to a comfortable 206 for two at tea on the first day of the one-off cricket Test.

Vijay (98 batting) is only two runs short of his ninth Test hundred hit 11 boundaries and a lovely six down the ground off Shakib Al Hasan. At the break, Vijay was in company of skipper Virat Kohli, who was looking good on 17. The only glitch in Vijay’s innings was a near run-out when he was on 35.

Along with in-form Pujara (83), he added 178 runs for the second wicket, laying a solid platform for a gigantic score that will ensure that Kohli and Co need not bat anymore in the match.

The intensity and the urgency to score quickly was evident as India scored as many as 120 runs in the second session of 31 overs during which Vijay sent the Bangladeshi bowlers packing.

Pujara, who was playing second fiddle to Vijay, will rue his luck as it was a soft dismissal with an outside edge being snapped up by skipper Mushfiqur Rahim with rookie off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz being the gainer. Pujara hit nine boundaries in his patient 177 ball knock.

This was the seventh time that Vijay-Pujara were involved in a century stand and are now joint second along with Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. The highest number of century partnerships is eight. It is jointly shared by Mohinder Amarnath-Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid-Virender Sehwag duos.

An easy pitch with a bowling attack lacking experience came to the fore as Bangladesh bowlers fizzled out post first hour. Save Taskin Ahmed, who showed a lot of heart on a slow track, the other bowlers including experienced Shakib Al Hasan lacked incisiveness and discipline to trouble a batting line-up that is very potent at home.

In the post lunch session, it was Vijay who launched an offensive by taking on opposition’s best bet Shakib. The half-century came off a gorgeous cover drive. Having hit Kamrul Islam Rabbi for three boundaries in the first session, the veteran Tamil Nadu opener again unleashed a pull shot with Rabbi using the short ball to no effect.

He reached his 70’s with a back cut and the down the ground six off Shakib. As he reached 90’s, he became a bit cautious not trying to complete the milestone before tea.

Earlier, opting to bat, India survived opener Lokesh Rahul’s (2) first over dismissal but Vijay and Pujara ensured that there were no demons in it. Rahul, whose scores hover between single and three digits in longer format, was bowled when he dragged a fuller delivery from Taskin while attempting a cover drive.

His new ball partner Rabbi worked up decent pace with his slinging action. Vijay and Pujara were initially cautious as only seven runs came off the first five overs. The first boundary came in the sixth over bowled by Rabbi when Pujara opened the face of his bat to glide it past point region.

The seasoned duo, who have been involved in some great partnerships over the years decided see off the new ball with first 10 overs yielding only 26 runs. Once Soumya Sarkar was introduced as the first change bowler in the 11th over, Indian batsmen opened with Pujara whipping him for a boundary.

A cautious Vijay then showed his range of strokes using Rabbi’s pace and extra bounce to good effect. He pulled the pacer thrice for boundaries. The first couple were pull shots behind square and the third was past square leg – a typical ‘Nataraja Shot’ which would remind one of Kapil Dev. He hit an eye catching cover drive off Taskin.

Vijay looked in good touch and Pujara’s defence looked impregnable as Bangladesh bowlers didn’t bowl that well in the second hour. The only time that Vijay was in real trouble was a miscommunication with Pujara with both turning up at the striker’s end. The fielder Rabbi landed an accurate throw at the non-striker’s end but Miraz bungled with collection as Vijay made it in nick of time. Pujara’s best shot in the pre lunch session was one hit back past Rabbi that rocketed to the fence.
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