Vijay and Pujara continue to dazzle together

That they bat in the top three also presents them with an opportunity to stitch together big partnerships and either set up the foundation for a mammoth total or take the game away from the opposition.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay... bonding well.   -  PTI

They are the only two players in India’s current Test squad who are by and large stamped as Test specialists. No wonder then that Cheteshwar Pujara and M. Vijay have emerged as vital cogs in India’s batting line-up in white flannels. That they bat in the top three also presents them with an opportunity to stitch together big partnerships and either set up the foundation for a mammoth total or take the game away from the opposition.

The duo’s unbroken 107-run partnership against England on the second day of the fourth Test fell in the first category as they kept India in the hunt for England’s first innings total of 400 on a wicket that’s tilting heavily in favour of spinners.

Vijay, having fallen to the short ball twice earlier in the series, expectedly faced a barrage of short balls early on, but left the ball with little trouble. Once Pujara joined him at the crease after K. L. Rahul’s dismissal, Vijay got after the England spinners at will. Pujara also played confidently as both the batsmen looked set to repeat the feat of recording centuries in the same innings for the second time in the series.

Parthiv Patel, the wicketkeeper, who, on his comeback, had partnered Vijay at the top of the order in the last Test in Mohali, had heaps of praise on Vijay. “He had two-three dismissals against the short ball, so he left the ball really well today. That is the reason you can say that he is a quality batsman,” he said. “He has scored a lot of runs in international cricket in the last one and a half years. And that’s what an international batsman could do. He went out there and backed himself to get a lot of runs.”

The same also applies to Pujara as he recorded the seventh century partnership with Vijay. After the third day’s play in Rajkot, when Pujara and Vijay’s centuries had steered India to safety, Pujara had stressed on “communication” being the key for the two revelling at the crease, in each other’s company.

“I think it’s the communication,” he had said. “We spend a lot of time, not just on the field but also talking about the game, talking about this format. Sometimes, it is difficult for a player who is just playing this particular format because when we're not playing the other formats, you don't get quality practice or you're not in touch with the game.

“We have played some domestic matches in the free time after the New Zealand series and we were there at the NCA to train before this series started. So I think it's the communication which keeps us going. We know each other’s strengths, we know what the opposition is trying to do and we always try to communicate.”

Even though Friday saw miscommunication between them when it came to running between the wickets, the Indian contingent would be hoping that the combination continues the good work into the weekend.