HYDERABAD, March 3 (PTI): Opener Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara decimated the Australian attack with scintillating centuries as India took complete control of the second cricket Test, here today.
Pujara (162 batting) notched up his fourth Test hundred and Vijay (129 batting) scored his second ton as the record second-wicket partnership of 294 runs took India to a comfortable 311 for one, at close on second day.
The duo eclipsed the stand of 224 against Australia, set by Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath in 1986 at Sydney.
Having already secured a lead of 74 runs, India would target a huge one, which would take batting fourth on this track out of equation.
India scored only 49 runs in the 27 overs bowled during the opening session but the two Indian batsmen came out with a far more positive approach as they smashed 257 runs in the next two sessions.
If the first session was about consolidation, the next two sessions were about attacking the bowlers. Both Pujara and Vijay hit a flurry of boundaries with Aussie bowlers suddenly dishing out pedestrian stuff from the disciplined and accurate bowling during the first session.
Once they went off the boil, there was no looking back for the Indians. As the day progressed, Australian bowlers were sent into an absolute leatherhunt.
Vijay struck 17 boundaries and two sixes in 288 balls. Pujara hit 25 boundaries and also hooked Peter Siddle for a six to bring up his 150 having faced 251 balls in the process.
The Saurashtra lad stood tall and square as he cut the rising deliveries outside the off-stump with a lot of ferocity and it was a delightful sight.
When Henriquies dug one short, he was in perfect position to play the pull-shot.
Although both adhered to the tried and tested theory of giving the first session to the bowlers, Pujara looked much more composed and assured in comparison to Vijay’s safety first approach.
May be it has got a lot to do with Pujara being in good form and is slowly and surely making Rahul Dravid’s batting slot his own while the talented Vijay knows only too well that chances may dry up in near future.
The manner in which Vijay concentrated was impressive as he curbed his natural instinct of going for flashy strokes till the time he was set.
In the final session, while both started on 73, Pujara suddenly raced ahead as he hit five boundaries in quick time to reach 90’s. A late cut for a couple of runs off Glenn Maxwell brought up his fourth Test hundred in 188 balls.
Vijay reached his second Test ton in 245 balls and the relief was palpable on his face as his celebration was far more emotional than the muted one by Pujara.
Australia’s plan to play with left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty (0/85 in 26 overs) and IPL’s ‘Million Dollar Boy’ Maxwell (0/55 in 10 overs) backfired badly.
Both the batsmen used their feet appreciably as the spinners failed to extract any turn and bounce.
Maxwell, in particular, was easy meat for Vijay and Pujara as he not only bowled short but also didn’t get to turn his off-breaks as much as Nathan Lyon did.
Vijay hit a couple of big sixes – one each off Doherty over long off and the second off Maxwell over deep mid-wicket boundary.
Earlier, Peter Siddle got the only breakthrough of the first session removing an out-of-form Virender Sehwag.
But the Aussie pace trio of Siddle, James Pattinson and all-rounder Moises Henriques kept things under control as India went into lunch at 54 for one.
Just 23 minutes into the second day, Sehwag was dismissed by Siddle with a rising delivery. The pacer hit three-quarter length and got the ball to rear up awkwardly and also moved a shade kissing the edge of Sehwag’ bat as Matthew Wade took the catch.
While the bowler wasn’t sure, Wade and the slip cordon were confident and umpire Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger after some deliberation. Sehwag managed only 6.
The sequence of scores for Sehwag in his last 6 Test innings reads: 23, 49, 0, 2, 19 and 6. A total of 99 runs in 6 Test innings at a dismal average of 16.50 and certainly doesn’t paint a bright picture about veteran opener, who used to be a match-winner even 18 months back.
Both Vijay and Pujara scored whenever the deliveries drifted on to their pads but at times also didn’t hit the length deliveries.
The running between the wickets was also not very impressive as on one occasion they failed to take a third run and on another occasion Pujara had a close shave as he managed to beat a direct throw from Siddle from mid-off.
So intent were these two in blocking everything that came there way, that there was a gap of 107 deliveries between two boundaries in that opening session.
Australia 1st innings: 237/9 decl
India 1st innings (overnight 5/0): Vijay batting 129, Sehwag c Wade b Siddle 6, Pujara batting 162. Extras: (B-1, LB-11, WD-2) 14. Total: (for 1 wicket in 93 overs) 311. Fall of wicket: 1-17. Bowling: Pattinson 18-7-56-0, Siddle 19-5-51-1, Henriques 19-7-38-0, Doherty 26-7-85-0, Maxwell 10-1-55-0, Warner 1-0-14-0.