Chesteshwar Pujara scores special ton, puts India on top against England
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Chesteshwar Pujara scores special ton, puts India on top against England

Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his ninth Test hundred in front of his home fans in Saurashtra as he put India in a strong position against England in Rajkot

cricket Updated: Nov 11, 2016 17:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Cheteshwar Pujara,India,England
Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his ninth Test century and his third against England.(AP)

Cheteshwar Pujara gave fans in his home town of Saurashtra plenty to cheer as he notched up his ninth Test century on the third day of the first Test against England in Rajkot. This was his third century against England and it was the first Test century by an Indian batsman at the Saurashtra Cricket Association. (LIVE BLOG)

Pujara came to the crease when Gautam Gambhir was dismissed in the second ball of the day and he got off the mark in style by drilling Broad down the ground for a boundary. His strike-rate at the start of the innings was over 100 as he slammed a couple of boundaries off Moeen Ali. (LIVE SCORECARD)

The right-hander withstood a fierce spell from Chris Woakes as he was hit thrice on the helmet. Woakes continued to maintain the short-ball barrage but Pujara handled it well. The introduction of Ben Stokes gave Pujara renewed confidence. He smashed five boundaries in two overs off Stokes as India finished the lunch session at 162/1.

After the lunch break, Pujara tackled Adil Rashid’s leg spin well and he survived some anxious moments off Broad. His partnership with Murali Vijay, who also notched up a fifty, put India in the driver’s seat. Their partnership crossed 150 and he had England on the ropes. Both Vijay and Pujara also created a record as their partnership went past 2000 runs in just 32 innings, making their pair prolific.

Pujara could not reach his landmark before tea but in the second over of the final session, the right-hander tapped a short ball from Chris Woakes to point to bring up his third Test ton against England. The moment was cheered by the home fans, including his family who were present at the stadium.

He grew in confidence as he passed his century but he fell to Ben Stokes on 124 as he guided a short ball straight to first slip where England skipper Alastair Cook took the catch to end a fabulous knock.

Heading into the series, Pujara was in magnificent form in the domestic circuit. He started off the 2016/17 season with scores of 166 and 256* for India Blue in the Duleep Trophy in Greater Noida. During the New Zealand series, he smashed three fifties and a century as he averaged 74.

This is not the first time Pujara has hurt England in India. In the 2012 series, he smashed 206 in the Ahmedabad Test and 135 in the Mumbai Test. However, his returns towards the end of the series tapered off. By this century, the pain of 2014, in which he averaged just 22.2, has been erased to a large extent.

First Published: Nov 11, 2016 14:52 IST