Pujara, Vijay dominate as India continue to build

Shukriya Pakistan

Cheteshwar Pujara was one run short of his ninth test hundred and added an unbroken 160 with Murali Vijay to lead India’s strong reply to England’s massive first innings total on the third morning of the opening test on Friday.

The hosts reached 228 for one at tea after losing Gautam Gambhir early but still trail England by 309 runs.

Local boy Pujara is poised to pass three figures after the break while Vijay is also closing in on a century, unbeaten on 86 at the interval as England toiled through a wicketless second session of the day.

The touring side, who posted 537 in their first innings of the five-match series, enjoyed an early breakthrough after India had resumed on 63-0 when paceman Stuart Broad trapped Gambhir leg before with his first delivery of the morning.

The left-handed opener missed a straight delivery from Broad, who is playing his 100th test, and was out for 29 to end a solid first-wicket stand of 68.

That was the highlight of the first session for the English bowlers on a placid wicket, however, as Pujara joined Vijay at the crease and soon found his rhythm with some crisply driven boundaries.

The 28-year-old Pujara, considered a specialist test batsman, thrived against England’s spin bowlers but needed all of his defensive guile to negotiate a hostile spell from Chris Woakes when the fast bowler hit him three times on the helmet.

Vijay looked solid at the other end and brought up his fifty with his second six against left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari but survived some nervous moments against leg-spinner Adil Rashid in the last over before lunch.

Broad should have had Vijay’s wicket but the batsman was dropped on 66 at covers by Haseeb Hameed. The 19-year-old debutant dived to his left but was unable to hold on to the catch.

Pujara followed Vijay in reaching his half-century with an off-driven four against Ben Stokes, who was wayward and conceded six boundaries in his four overs in the morning.

Pujara was given out leg before off Ansari on 86 but managed to overturn the umpire’s verdict through the Decision Review System (DRS), which is making its debut in a bilateral series in India. Reviews showed the ball was going over the stumps.