Cheteshwar Pujara treaded with caution while dealing with the English attack at the Dr. DY Patil Sports Stadium on Sunday as Mumbai scored 232 for four in reply to England's first innings 345 at stumps on day two.
The right-hander denied the visitors a chance to dominate with a well-constructed 87. Starting with a defensive approach, he shifted gears once he crossed his 50.
Although the Mumbai 'A' run-rate highlighted the slow flow of runs, the Saurashtra batsman displayed a knack to frustrate the bowlers as options at the disposal of skipper Stuart Broad seemed inadequate.
The slow pitch which offered assistance to bowlers meant the batsmen had to be cautious, but Pujara stood the ground with Hiken Shah to ward off any challenge from the visitors, in the process gaining valuable insight into the bowling he could face in Ahmedabad when the first Test begins on November 15.
Pujara was not flustered by the attacking field with catchers at close quarters.
He played every ball on its merit barring an edge off Monty Panesar to first slip early on. Luckily, the ball went away from the hands of James Anderson.
The knock with 11 fours was full of elegant drives, wristy flicks and sharp cuts. Pujara, after facing 140 balls and playing for over three hours for his half-century, took just 42 more deliveries to get to 87.
Pujara and Shah raised 163 runs together before Panesar induced an edge, and Anderson did not miss this time.
Shah consistently swept Panesar and part-time off-break bowler Joe Root, who had dismissed opener Shikhar Dhawan (27) cheaply.
England's innings lasted just seven overs, Stuart Broad and Samit Patel fell off successive balls and Graham Onions followed before Broad declared. Pujara reached 5,000th first-class runs when he reached 46.
Brief scores: England XI 1st innings 345/9 decl. Mumbai A 1st innings 232/4 (C Pujara 87)