Rajkot: Cheteshwar Pujara secured a coveted century in his home city, with Murali Vijay achieving the stellar feat as well, as they helped India give a strong reply to England's 537 on day three of the opening Test here today.
The 28-year-old Pujara scored his ninth century in his 39th Test after he was reprieved on 86 by the Decision Review System which is being used by India at home for the first time.
With opener Vijay for company, who scored 100 as well, Pujara - not out after hitting 15 fours in 166 balls at tea - stitched a fighting 185-run stand to pilot the home team to an impressive 253 for one in the 85th over. It was the sixth time that the duo has forged a 100-plus partnership.
Both the batsmen were lucky to have survived the second session, Pujara having been given a new lease of life by DRS and Vijay escaping being caught off Stuart Broad.
But in between they showed grit aplenty against some tight and probing bowling, especially from Broad and Chris Woakes to remain unconquered after batting for nearly the entire duration of two sessions.
They had come together at the fall of opener Gautam Gambhir off the first ball of the second over today morning when India were on 68, having added just five to their overnight score.
Vijay, who survived a leg before the wicket shout in the last over before lunch against Adil Rashid, continued to find the leg spinner a difficult proposition post lunch.
With first Woakes and then Broad, who bowled a spell of 5-4-1-0, strangling the scoring rate at the other end, Vijay added just 7 runs in 49 balls.
He was also distinctly lucky to be grassed by debutant Haseeb Hameed off Broad at short covers when on 66. It was a drive on the up by Vijay but Hameed could not latch on to the ball after diving full length to his left.
Pujara, at the other end, batted much more fluently but was also stifled by the England bowlers as just 33 runs came in 15 overs.
The duo also raised a century partnership during this period of play for the second wicket in 129 minutes and 175 balls.
Pujara was more assured of the two against Rashid. In the first session the duo added 94 runs after coming together at the fall of Gambhir's wicket in the second over of the day when the score read 68.