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Cricket: Pujara form a boost for India

Cheteshwar Pujara looked in good touch ahead of next week's first Test as India overcame the early loss of both openers to bat through the second day of three in their tour match with Derbyshire on Wednesday.

LONDON: Cheteshwar Pujara looked in good touch ahead of next week's first Test as India overcame the early loss of both openers to bat through the second day of three in their tour match with Derbyshire on Wednesday.

The tourists were in trouble at 18 for two, in reply to Derbyshire's first innings 326 for five, after Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan both fell for six at the County Ground.

But Pujara (81) repaired the damage in company with Virat Kohli and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni befire uncapped all-rounder Stuart Binny (81 not out) took the side to a stumps declaration of 341 for six.

In their final match before they make the short journey to Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground for the first of a five-Test series with England, Dhoni's men saw Vijay and Dhawan fall within the space of five balls.

India, in what could be a guide to their Test line-up, omitted the experienced Gautam Gambhir from their top four before Derbyshire seamer Mark Turner struck the first blow for the Midlands county when he had Vijay (six) lbw on the back foot.

Turner's new-ball partner Ben Cotton, during the course of an impressive opening spell of one for six in eight overs, then had Dhawan, pushing forward, caught behind.

Kohli, who needed 10 balls to get off the mark, had a scare on 18 when in the first over from Greg Cork -- the teenage son of former England seamer Dominic -- he edged low but just short of Chesney Hughes at slip.

But Kholi fell soon after lunch, playing on to the 20-year-old Cotton.

Dhoni promoted himself to number five and made a typically brisk 46 before he was bowled charging down the pitch to David Wainwright's left-arm spin.

Pujara, after completing a 98-ball fifty, decided he had batted long enough when he retired himself out on 81.

That left the innings in the hands of Ravindra Jadeja and Binny.

Jadeja, dropped at slip by Hughes off Cork on nought, made 45 in a stand of 88 before he was well caught at short extra-cover off Wainwright.

Binny then pressed to an 89-ball fifty ahead of the final day where 90 overs are set to be split between both teams' second innings.

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