Cheteshwar Pujara's finely crafted century led India to a 27-run lead on the second day of the fourth Test match against England on Friday. At one point of time, India was on a dangerous position of 195 for eight. But Pujara recovered India from a big crash and led Indian innings to a total of 273.
This was Pujara’s first century outside India since 2013. Pujara’s last century outside of Asia was the 150 he hit against South Africa in Johannesburg.
While wickets were falling around him, Pujara stood patiently. Very occasionally he drove through the covers, but often his scoring came either through the wristy flicks on the leg side or cuts to third man.
England were all out for 246 in their first innings on the first day of the fourth Test on Thursday. After the end of India's first Innings, Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings began England’s second innings at six for no loss on Friday evening.
While starting on Friday, Pujara was the support act in a stand of 92 with Captain Virat Kohli, who edged to first slip off Curran for 46 to begin India's slide. Only when joined with Ishant, then Bumrah, did Puraja show more intent in two chaotic partnerships that frustrated England in the evening sunshine. Pujara, who was twice struck on the helmet by bouncers, survived a review for lbw off Moeen on 99 and, next ball, lofted down the ground to complete his 15th Test century.
On Friday, English attack was mostly led by Moeen Ali who tore down Indian batting line up by taking five wickets for 63. The off-spinner ran through the India lower order as they lost six wickets for 53 runs to slip from 142-2 to 195-8.
Now the fourth test is also turned to an interesting mode. England lead 2-1 and can seal the series with victory on the south coast, while a win for India would keep alive their own hopes of winning the series going into the final match at The Oval.
To add to the intrigue, the Southampton pitch is showing signs of sharp turn, potentially aiding India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as well as England pair Moeen and Adil Rashid in the fourth innings.