RAJKOT - Local hero Cheteshwar Pujara held his nerve in front of watching family and friends to strike a century and lead a spirited Indian fightback in the first Test against England Friday.

The elegant right-hander struck a patient 124 and also shared a 209-run stand with his favourite batting partner Murali Vijay (126) to help top-ranked India finish the third day of a high-scoring Test on 319-4. The hosts now trail by 218 runs with six wickets in hand in reply to England's 537, their third biggest total on Indian soil, thanks to centuries from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes.

After being stuck on 99 for 10 balls, Pujara brought up his ton with a nervous single as his father and wife applauded from the stands in the first-ever Test at Rajkot's Saurashtra Cricket Association ground. "There were many nervous moments. There were expectations as many family and close friends were watching this game and the crowd was expecting me to score big runs," said the 28-year-old, who was born in Rajkot. "But I told myself I don't need to think about all that. I just focussed on my processes and things turned out well for me."

Pujara, who shared his sixth century stand with Vijay, attributed the pair's success to a fine understanding of each other's game. "It's the communication which keeps us going. We know each other's strengths and we always try and communicate with each other."

Pujara, who hit 17 fours in his 206-ball knock, owed his ninth Test century and third against England to the Decision Review System, which long-time sceptics India are using for the first time in a home series. He was ruled lbw on 86 but the TV umpire overturned the decision after the ball-tracker showed Zafar Ansari's delivery going over the top of the stumps. "When the ball hit me, I thought it was quite high. I confirmed with Vijay and even he felt it was high," Pujara said of the review.

There was some drama in the final session when England dismissed Vijay and nightwatchman Amit Mishra in the last two overs of the day.  But with the in-form Indian skipper Virat Kohli not out on 26 and a lot of Indian batting still to come, the hosts would be more than happy with their show.

Pujara flourished in the post-lunch session, twice carting leg-spinner Adil Rashid for fours in the same over. And Vijay proved a perfect foil, racing to his seventh Test century with two boundaries off Stuart Broad, who is playing his 100th Test. Vijay was lucky to earn a life on 66 when debutant Haseeb Hameed failed to hold onto his catch off Broad (1-54) in the covers.

The dropped chance capped a frustrating day for England who huffed and puffed in temperatures touching 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), and on a surface that had little to offer to the bowlers. Paceman Chris Woakes impressed the most in the testing conditions, giving away just 39 runs off 23 overs. England's assistant coach Paul Fabrace said he was pleased with the effort of his bowlers on what was a "very good" wicket for batting.

"We bowled out two outstanding batsmen on a very good pitch.... The two wickets towards the end has also given us a huge lift," he told reporters. "I am pleased with the way our spinners have bowled. I think they bowled particularly well in tough conditions."

The morning session saw India lose opener Gautam Gambhir (29) to Broad, who struck off his first ball of the day. The ball hit his pad in front of the middle and off stump, and the decision was upheld after Gambhir referred it to the third umpire. Before the start of play, England players and support staff observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect to the war dead on Armistice Day. The players also wore shirts with a commemorative poppy on the right collar.




(OVERNIGHT: 63/0):

M Vijay c Hameed b Rashid         126

G Gambhir lbw b Broad 29

C Pujara c Cook b Stokes               124

V Kohli not out  26

A. Mishra c Hameed b Ansari      0

EXTRAS: (b12, lb1, w1)   14

TOTAL: (4 wkts; 108.3 overs)       319

FOW: 1-68, 2-277, 3-318, 4-319

BOWLING: Broad 20-7-54-1, Woakes 23-5-39-0 (1w), Ali 22-6-70-0, Ansari 17.3-1-57-1, Rashid 16-1-47-1, Stokes 10-1-39-1

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI) and Chris Gaffaney (NZL)

TV UMPIRE: Rod Tucker (AUS)

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)