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Why Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara have been India's best over the last decade

India Today logo India Today 12-11-2016

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara batted strongly on a docile Rajkot pitch, scoring their respective hundreds to lead India's reply to England's mammoth first innings total of 537 on the third day of the opening Test of the five-match series.

While Vijay slammed his seventh Test hundred, Pujara scored his second successive century and ninth of his Test career to lead India to 319/4 at the end of day's play, 218 runs behind the visitors with two days left in the match.

Vijay and Pujara joined forces and forged a 209-run stand for the second wicket to deny England any early inroads after Stuart Broad removed seasoned opener Gautam Gambhir in the second over of the day.

INDIA'S BEST

Both batsmen displayed immense concentration during their partnership as they became India's best batting pair in Tests in the last ten years both home and away.

Overall, the pair has scored 2081 runs in 32 innings at an average of 65.03, including six hundred and nine fifty-run partnerships.

At home, Vijay and Pujara are now the most prolific pair among all Indian pairs who have put on at least 1000 runs together. In 16 innings, the pair has scored 1301 runs at an average of 81.31, which is easily the highest for any Indian pair at home.

The 28-year-old Pujara, considered a Test specialist, thrived against England's spin bowlers and also skilfully negotiated a hostile spell from Chris Woakes when the fast bowler hit him three times on the helmet.

Vijay too looked solid at the other end. However, both were lucky to survive in the post-lunch session. Vijay was dropped by Haseeb Hameed at short cover off Broad.

Pujara was on 86 when he was adjudged lbw to Zafar Ansari in the 71st over, but the umpire's decision was overturned with reviews showing the ball going over the stumps.

Pujara 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. It was his third Test hundred against England.

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

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