India have stumbled to 87/3 at lunch on the first day of the second Test against England.
The hosts, playing at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, were dominant in the first innings of the first Test at Ahmadabad, with opener Virender Sehwag and top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara scoring 117 and an unbeaten 206 respectively, to guide MS Dhoni's side to 521/9 and a nine-wicket win.
However, the visitors have fought back brilliantly in the opening session of this Test, with Monty Panesar, included for this match, returning 2/29 from his 11 overs so far. The left-arm orthodox spinner scalped danger-men Sehwag (30) and Sachin Tendulkar (8), while seamer James Anderson trapped Gautam Gambhir leg before for 4. At lunch, Pujara was unbeaten on 38 and had Virat Kohli (6 not out) for company.
The inclusion of Panesar gave captain Alastair Cook three specialist spinners, with Graeme Swann and Samit Patel providing additional slow bowling options. And the move appears to be the correct one. The Wankhede pitch usually provides good balance between batting and bowling and that was evident in the morning.
Pujara and Sehwag shared a 48 run second wicket partnership, punctuated by smart boundaries like the double against Stuart Broad - Pujara deftly guided an attempted bouncer over the infield for the first and then clipped a half-volley to the leg-side fence for the second.
Sehwag was a tad less comfortable and both Broad and Anderson troubled him, particularly with balls bouncing just short of a length, in the corridor outside the off stump and with just a hint of movement. The veteran right-hander did get some cracking shots away, like the boundary in the second over of the day against Broad, which was driven briskly through mid-off and extra cover.
Eventually though, Sehwag fell to Panesar. A full and fast ball directed at his pads caught him out and the ball skidded off his pads and onto the stumps. That brought crowd favourite Tendulkar to the crease but the veteran of so many breathtaking centuries was swiftly returned to the pavilion, after he too failed to read Panesar. The ball was, admittedly, a fantastic delivery, reminiscent of the classic Australian legend Shane Warne bowled to a certain Mike Gatting; it pitched outside leg, beat Tendulkar in flight and then a second time as he tried to recover, and clipped the top of off stump.
Play will resume with India hoping Pujara can re-create his double century from the first Test and Kohli provide the kind of brilliant middle-order innings recovery that he is capable of. England, meanwhile, will want wickets... fast. If they can dismiss either one of these two and grab at least one more wicket in the next session, the advantage will definitely be theirs.