Opener Murali Vijay added to the selection conundrum with a patient 128 and was ably complemented by 'Run Machine' Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten 121 as India grinded a mediocre Sri Lankan attack on the second day of the second Test in Nagpur on Saturday. Pujara and Vijay added 209 runs for the second wicket to set a platform from where India would look to bat the Islanders out of the contest.
Playing his first Test match after eight months, Vijay increased the happy headache of the team management as they will be spoilt for choice during the third Test match in Delhi and more importantly, the Test series in South Africa. With his compact technique, the Tamil Nadu opener is certainly going to have a headstart over his nearest rivals - KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, when the team embarks on the tour to South Africa.
Vijay teed off with a glorious square drive off Eden Test hero Suranga Lakmal 058, who was far from his best with conditions not aiding his kind of bowling. For someone who plays the drive fluently, Vijay was time and again provided with loose half-volleys both outside the off-stump and on his legs for him to make full use. The shot with which Vijay brought up his half-century was a picture perfect straight drive off Dasun Shanaka.
The Pujara-Vijay combination has been a nemesis for bowlers in the Indian sub-continent with their 10th century stand in longest version. Vijay hit 11 boundaries and a six off 221 deliveries before being dismissed while trying to sweep Rangana Herath. Three more satisfying pieces of statistics is sure to bring a smile to the Indian dressing room. Vijay-Pujara pair score at an average of 73 runs per partnership - highest among all Indian pairs across Test cricket and Saurashtra right-hander has completed 1000 Test runs in 2017. Pujara-Vijay were also involved in their fourth successive century stand.
Pujara, who scored his 14th century has skipper Virat Kohli at the other end. Kohli is looking good for a big one on the third day and surely would be playing a more attacking role than Pujara, who took 246 balls to reach his century. With the pitch not offering any assistance to the bowlers, Sri Lankan attack looked pedestrian as the seasoned Indian duo scored runs easily without taking any undue risks. Pujara batted through the whole day facing 284 balls in which he hit 13 boundaries.