The proceedings on Day 2, of the second Test between India and Australia in Hyderabad on Sunday, could be trifurcated, with all three parts explaining different facets of an Indian success story.
While the first part (read morning session) was about laying the foundation, the second involved consolidation, and the third witnessed annihilation (of the opposition).
The two protagonists of this success story had contrasting sub plots.
When Cheteshwar Pujara last played at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium, in the opening Test against New Zealand last August, he made a composed 159, his first Test hundred.
On Sunday, he carried forth from where he had left off, scoring a majestic 162, inclusive of 25 boundaries and a six.
It was the fourth hundred of a fledgling Test career, but with promises of many more to come.
Murali Vijay’s lone Test hundred had come against Australia, a 139 in the second Test at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore in October 2010. The 28-year-old was under pressure having suffered a dual failure in the opening Test, on his home ground at that.
He responded well though, hitting a magnificent 129, a knock inclusive of 17 hits to the fence and two over it.
The two batsmen not only ensured India recovered well from an early setback, as they put on an unbroken stand of 294 runs for the second wicket, but also very much took the game away from Australia.
With the home team leading by 74 runs, having reached 311 for one at stumps, and three days left to play, it is a lost cause for the visitors.
Morning session (49 runs, 27 overs, 1 wicket):
Australia got off to a perfect start on the second morning with pacer Peter Siddle striking in the fifth over of the day.
Virender Sehwag (6) looked ill at ease during his stay at the crease and it came in as no surprise when he edged behind to wicketkeeper Mathew Wade.
It was yet another failure for the veteran opener, having failed to make a mark in both the innings in the opening match in Chennai.
Pujara got off the mark with a boundary in front of square off Siddle. However, the home team made slow progress in the morning session, adding only 35 runs in the first 21 overs of the session.
Siddle’s opening spell figures (8-2-20-1) made for an impressive read and so did Moises Henriques (7-4-3-0). James Pattinson also kept a tight line in his three brief spells (10-5-16-0).
However, much to their chagrin the visitors failed to get another breakthrough in the morning session.
The Indian batsmen kept defending, and defended well. The Australian bowlers failed to breach through their defences, and could neither force them into committing errors.
A direct hit from David Warner was the only instance when the visitors seemed to have a chance of getting a wicket. Pujara though had made his ground.
When Vijay stepped out of his ground and hit a Doherty delivery to the mid-off fence in the 28th over, it marked the first boundary for India in 107 deliveries. It didn’t take that long for the next, Vijay hitting Pattinson through cover to bring up the Indian 50.
The home team had reached 54 for one at lunch (30 overs).
Post-lunch session (106 runs, 33 overs, no wicket):
Five overs into the second session, Pujara cut a Pattinson delivery past gully for only his second boundary, the shot helping raise the 50-run partnership for the second wicket.
The young batsman also scored successive boundaries off the last two balls of the same over.
If Siddle had a good opening spell, his second (5-0-17-0) was uninspiring to say the least. Doherty replaced him in the attack in the 42nd over and in just the spinner’s second ball, Vijay stepped out of his ground to hit the ball over mid-off for a six, the shot helps the opener complete a third Test fifty and helps raise the Indian 100 as well.
It was Vijay’s first significant Test score since he made 139 against Australia in Bangalore in 2010, his lone Test hundred.
Shortly after, Pujara hit a Glenn Maxwell delivery between point and extra cover to complete his half century, the shot also helping raise the 100-run partnership for the second wicket.
It was the 25-year-old’s second Test fifty, the first since he made 72 in the second innings on his debut in Bangalore (2010), the same match where Vijay scored his lone Test hundred.
Pujara featured in 10 Tests coming into this match and had three three-figure scores to his credit, including a double hundred -- 206 not out against England in the opening Test in Ahmedabad last year.
The home team reached 160 for one at tea (63 overs), with both the batsmen unbeaten on 73.
Post-tea session (151 runs, 30 overs, no wicket):
The set Indian pair piled on the agony for Australia in the final session.
The visitors had two spinners, Doherty and Maxwell, bowling in tandem for most parts. But none of them managed to make an impact, forget giving their side the breakthrough that it so desperately needed.
Vijay stepped out of the crease to smash Maxwell over deep midwicket for a six, the shot helping the home side get past the 200-run mark in the 73rd over.
Four balls later, in the same over, Pujara took a couple to complete what a deserving hundred. It was the 25-year-old’s fourth Test hundred in his fledgling career.
It didn’t take long for Vijay to reach the landmark either, a boundary over extra cover off Doherty helping him reach the landmark. He celebrated the same with a second straight boundary, behind point on this occasion, the shot helping India take the lead as well.
A six over fine leg off Siddle, his first, helped Pujara get past the 150-run mark. Having consolidated his place in the Test side, it was probably Pujara’s method of trying to convince the selectors of considering him for the shorter versions as well.