Visakhapatnam: Skipper Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara hit majestic centuries to help India take opening day honours as they reached 317 for four at stumps against England in the second Test in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
Kohli put on a marathon 226-run stand for the third wicket with Pujara (119) after the hosts lost their openers early to the England seamers.
Fit-again paceman James Anderson enjoyed his return with three wickets only to see the rest of the English attack face a tough time after the hosts opted to bat first.
Kohli on 151 and Ravichandran Ashwin on one were at the crease when stumps were called.
Kohli made full use of his reprieve on 56 when Adil Rashid dropped him at long leg off Ben Stokes to record his 14th Test century.
The star batsman mixed the right dose of caution and aggression to thwart the English bowling attack at India’s newest Test venue.
“I think he (Kohli) likes to play his shots and the kind of runs he has scored in all the formats of the game, I always enjoy batting with him because he likes to dominate,” Pujara said of his skipper.
Bringing up his 10th Test ton with a six off leg-spinner Rashid, the in-form Pujara tackled the English bowlers with aplomb.
Pujara, who scored 124 in the first innings in Rajkot, dominated play during his 204-ball knock, laced with 12 fours and two sixes, before being caught behind off Anderson.
“I just wanted to continue that form and once both of us were set, we just wanted to capitalise on the situation,” Pujara told reporters.
Kohli carried on the good work in the company of Ajinkya Rahane (23) who lost his cool in the penultimate over of the day as Anderson struck with the second new ball.
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker with 466, stood out with figures of 3-44 as he enjoyed his comeback with a pumped up victory celebration of opener Murali Vijay’s wicket in the morning session.
“It was great, I’ve spent the last two months working really hard trying to get back into this side,” said Anderson, who has recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out since August.
“It has been frustrating at times but it has been worth it and worth all the hard work that I’ve put in.
“And getting back out there with the lads is a great feeling and to get on the board with a couple of wickets was even better.”
– Dog drama –
England spinners, who gave India a run for their money in the drawn Test in Rajkot, returned wicketless in three sessions with Moeen Ali and Zafar Ansari taking a bit of a stick.
Ali though did give Kohli a scare after going for an lbw referral, but the third umpire upheld the on-field call even though the ball would have clipped the leg stump according to the ball tracker.
Cricket apart, there was drama when a stray dog forced the umpires to call tea four balls early due to it appearing from behind the sightscreen and evading attempts to chase it from the field.
There are thousands of stray dogs on India’s streets, and this was not the first time one has interrupted a sporting event.
In 2011, India was forced to halt its first ever Formula One practice session when a stray dog ran onto the Buddh International Circuit.
Earlier India handed off-spinner Jayant Yadav his Test debut with the Visakhapatnam pitch expected to turn as the match progresses.