Pujara vigil leaves England toiling

Graeme Swann claimed his 14th five-wicket haul for England

Graeme Swann claimed his 14th five-wicket haul for England

First published in National Sport News © by

England's unenviable struggle continued against Cheteshwar Pujara as India reached a teatime 502 for six on day two of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

Pujara ploughed on remorselessly to a career-best 196 not out at this level, on the verge of a maiden double-hundred in only his sixth Test, having shared a fifth-wicket stand of 130 with Yuvraj Singh (74).

Graeme Swann eventually took his wicket tally to five, for the 14th time for his country, but his successes here have so far come at a cost of 143 runs on a lifeless surface offering only slow and irregular turn.

If there was a consolation for England, it was that this pitch has yet to show any significant signs of deterioration - and therefore their prospects of closing out a draw remain viable.

During their second consecutive wicketless morning, Yuvraj passed a poignant comeback half-century - in his first Test innings since recovering from cancer - and Pujara completed India's second individual hundred of the match after Virender Sehwag's blistering statement of intent on Thursday.

Yuvraj reached his 98-ball 50 with a big hit over midwicket off Swann for his fifth four, to go with a one straight six also off the off-spinner. England immediately gave the ball, only four overs old, to Swann rather than seam at each end.

But the closest they came to a breakthrough before lunch was with a collection of lbw appeals, the most convincing of which was Swann's from only the second ball of the day when Yuvraj missed a sweep without addition to his overnight 24. He and Pujara then appeared to target Swann, taking 15 off one over - including that six from Yuvraj - but Alastair Cook kept his nerve, and the off-spinner continued.

By then, Pujara had moved from his start-of-play 98 past his hundred, from 190 balls and having hit 13 fours. It soon turned into a 'groundhog' experience for England - although, to defensive fields, runs did not come as quickly as they had for Sehwag 24 hours earlier.

Pujara is not a batsman to respond with a loss of patience, however, and it seemed England's best hope was to try to out-bore him and hope for a mistake from Yuvraj. It was not until early afternoon that they had any respite.

Yuvraj clubbed a Samit Patel full-toss to Swann in the leg-side deep, and then the off-spinner put himself back in the wickets column too when Mahendra Singh Dhoni deflected an attempted sweep down on to his stumps. Pujara remained less cooperative, still showing no signs of weariness as he negotiated a third successive full session in an innings of almost eight hours, 367 balls - and counting.

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