After England posted 400 on the board at the end of their first innings, they were in the driver's seat for the Mumbai Test, especially if recent history is anything to go by. In the last few Tests played at the Wankhede Stadium, the team scoring 400 in the first innings has always gone on to win the Test.
However, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara could help in altering that trend, thanks to their century-run stand that put the hosts on course for matching or even bettering England's total.
While India still remain 254 runs behind the Englishmen, the ease with which they batted in the second part of Day 2 must have been heartening for the Indian fans. Vijay was positive from the word go and seemed at his fluent best as he racked up an unbeaten 70. On the other hand, Pujara carried on from where he left off in Mohali. The Saurashtra batsman continued with his new-found aggressive approach and the India team reaped its benefits.
The Indian batsmen, who scored at a rate of 2.80 runs per over on Day 2, can be expected to better it on Day 3 if they don't lose early wickets. Once again, the first session on Friday will be crucial and if England fail to make inroads in the Indian battling line-up, they will risk losing their grip on this Test match. In addition, it will give India an opportunity to surpass their total before the end of day's play and severely dent the visitors' hope of salvaging anything from this series.
If India can get to within 20-30 runs or surpass the English total on Day 3, they will have a significant advantage in the Test considering the form the Indian spinners displayed in the first innings. Ravichandran Ashwin was nearly unplayable in the first four sessions of the Test, and with the pitch set to further deteriorate on Day 4, England could struggle to set up a big score in their second innings. Any target less than 250 would make India favourites, despite having to bat in the 4th innings and they can take a big step towards seizing the ascendancy in this Test match by batting the way they did on Day 2.
It's vital that Vijay and Pujara continue to take the attack to their opponents since the start on Day 3. The visitors, who will be smarting from the battering they received on Day 2, would have fresh plans to curb the Indian fightback. A bit of aggression from the settled pair could go a long way in knocking their plans off track and leave them feeling the heat. The English spinners have looked toothless so far, especially due to the way the Indians have played them. Adil Rashid who has been the tourists' best spinning option in this series endured a tough day after the Indians decided to attack him. He ended the day with an economy of 3.76 and that fractured their bowling attack.
Hence, a similar approach is necessary for India at the start of the day to push the English bowlers into a state of helplessness. It would provide them with a platform to post a big score, end England's chances of winning this Test and kill hopes of any comeback in this series.
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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2016 22:44:30 IST