Monty Panesar marked his Test return with four wickets but could find no way past Cheteshwar Pujara as the tireless India No 3 once again con-founded England.
Without Pujara (114no), augmenting the unbeaten double-century he made in India’s nine-wicket first Test victory, England would surely have bowled their hosts out cheaply on day one of the second at the Wankhede Stadium. He survived while the rest of the top six faltered against Panesar (four for 91) on a spinners’ pitch, and then shared consecutive 50 stands with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin (60no) to turn a vulnerable 119 for five into 266 for six by stumps.
As in his tour de force 206 not out in Ahmedabad last week, Pujara appeared in control throughout on the way to a near five-and-a-half hour century.
Panesar, back for his first Test in eight months after a clamour for his inclusion here, bagged the prize wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
In his 100th Test, opener Sehwag managed 30, and the great Tendulkar – perhaps playing on his home ground at the highest level for the last time – just eight.
James Anderson gave the tourists a near-perfect start, in the first over of the match after India had won the toss. Gautam Gambhir hit him for four first ball, but the England bowler swung the next past bat on to pad to win an lbw.
Alastair Cook took Anderson off after just three overs, however, and gave Panesar an early bowl. England’s slow left-armer began with a nervy full-toss, which Sehwag duly clubbed wide of mid-on for four in an over costing nine runs. But his next was a maiden to Sehwag, and soon he got his man, defeating Sehwag in flight to bowl him off-stump off his pads.
Tendulkar also lost his off-stump to Panesar, while Virat Kohli after taking more than an hour either side of lunch to reach 19, was not quite to the pitch driving Panesar – and as the ball gripped again, he pushed a catch low to cover.
Cook immediately reintroduced Graeme Swann to bowl at left-hander Yuvraj Singh, and the ploy worked with an off-break which beat the new batsman on the backward defence and disturbed off-stump again.
Pujara escaped a half-chance on 60 when Anderson could not cling on one-handed diving low to his left at second slip off Panesar. But he and Dhoni added exactly 50 until the captain was neatly caught low down at gully by Swann when Panesar got one to leap and turn.