Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Vijay, Pujara lift India

Published:Saturday | November 12, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara raises his bat after scoring a century on the third day of the first cricket Test match between India and England in Rajkot, India yesterday.

RAJKOT, India (AP):

Centuries by Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara pushed India to 319 for four and behind England by 218 runs on day three of the first Test yesterday.

Vijay scored 126 and Pujara made 124 as they defied England's bowlers for most of the day's play.

They strung together 209 for the second wicket, their second-highest partnership after 370 in 2013 against Australia in Hyderabad.

"Communication is key for both of us," Pujara said. "Vijay and I have been playing together for a long time. We have spent time talking about the game and the format."

He charmed the crowd with his aggressive innings, his ninth Test hundred and third against England. Family and close friends were on hand at his home ground.

"It means a lot. I have played a lot of domestic cricket at Rajkot," he said. "I was nervous before this game. There were a lot of expectations. I tried not to think about them."

Stumps was taken after India lost two wickets in two late overs, leaving Virat Kohli 26 not out.

The pitch continued to play true as the match seems headed for a draw. England's over rate was slow, however. Play was extended by half hour, but 4.3 overs remained to be bowled at stumps.

After tea, Pujara completed his century off 169 deliveries. He was out caught at wide slip by Alastair Cook off Ben Stokes in the 92nd over. In all, he faced 206 deliveries and hit 17 fours.

Vijay racked up his seventh Test hundred off 254 deliveries. After Pujara's dismissal, he put on 41 with Kohli for the third wicket.

Vijay was dismissed just before close of play, caught at short leg by Haseeb Hameed off spinner Adil Rashid. He faced 301 balls in total and hit nine fours as well as four sixes.

Zafar Ansari then dismissed nightwatchman Amit Mishra for a duck, also caught at short leg by Hameed, in the final over before stumps. All four India wickets were shared around.