Mumbai: Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen batted with some real purpose as England staged a brilliant comeback on day two of second Test at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.
In reply to India's 327, both added an unbeaten 110 for the third wicket to take the tourists to 178 for 2 at the close of play. Not for a moment they looked in trouble on a pitch that has been partial to spinners. Cook, who scored a brilliant 176 in Motera in the first Test, was as solid as ever, while Pietersen unleashed nine boundaries during his innings of 62 off 85 balls. Cook was 13 runs short of a 22nd ton that will put him alongside Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond as England's highest century-makers in Tests.
After taking out the remaining four Indian wickets in the morning session, Cook and Nick Compton got up 66 runs for the visiting team for the first wicket, bringing the Indian spinning trio of R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh down a peg or two. However, Ojha, who took nine wickets in the first Test, came back strongly to send back Compton and Jonathan Trott in his back-to-back overs as the visitors went into tea at 77 for 2.
Compton (29) showed great composure before nicking the left-arm spinner to Virender Sehwag at first slip, while Trott was trapped lbw for a duck. Pietersen, arguably England's best batsman right now against spin, joined Cook and both put the Three Lions in firm control by the end of the day's play.
Earlier in the day, Chesteshwar Pujara top-scored with 135 to help the hosts post a competitive total. His resolve was ended by Graeme Swann, who got the Indian batsman stumped by wicketkeeper Matt Prior. It was the Indian batsman's first stump-out in his entire first-class career so far.
Pujara (114) and Ashwin (60) resumed the day on 266 for 6 but their partnership lacked the fluency of Friday. Monty Panesar trapped Ashwin lbw for 68 with only 14 runs added to the overnight score. Harbhajan after getting his eye in played a few lusty blows before Swann struck to break the 35-run stand. Harbhajan scored 21 off 25 balls with the help of two boundaries and a six.
Pujara departed soon after Harbhajan, and Swann wrapped up the Indian innings, getting Zaheer Khan caught by Jonny Bairstow at short-leg for 11. Ojha remained unbeaten on 0. Panesar was the most successful bowler for the visitors with figures of 5 for 129, while Swann finished with 4 for 70.