NAGPUR: Proceedings were painstaking at times as runs came at a snail’s pace in the first hour. But by lunch on Day 2 of the second Test, the Indian innings had picked up pace. At 97/1 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 205, India were on course to bat themselves to a position of strength.
Back in the XI after being dropped for the first Test, Murali Vijay was leading the way with an unbeaten 56. Cheteshwar Pujara was batting on 33 and the unbroken second wicket partnership was worth 90. Sri Lanka tried pace and spin without being able to pose serious problems. It was Vijay’s 16th half-century in 52 Tests and his first score above 50 in his fourth match at the venue where he made Test debut in 2008.
The partnership was slow to begin with, as a mere 31 runs came in the first 16 overs of the day. The fast bowlers were bowling either outside off or short with two men in catching positions deep on the leg side. But Vijay and Pujara resisted temptations like seasoned pros that they are and blunted the attack before starting to play shots. The opener was driving beautifully on the off side, while the No 3 looked in good touch turning the ball off his legs.
In a departure from what has been the tradition in Test venues of late, there was a decent crowd in the region of 10,000 at VCA Stadium. The cricket on offer in the first hour didn’t quite set the stands on fire. However, there was some entertainment later on when the shackles were broken. Importantly from India’s point of view, they looked like heading towards a total that can put Sri Lanka under pressure in the second innings.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 205. India 97/1 (Vijay 56 no, Pujara 33 no). Lunch. Day 2.