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Pujara leads strong start

Cheteshwar Pujara on the go during his maiden Test ton.

HYDERABAD – Cheteshwar Pujara struck a maiden century to put India in a strong position after the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at Hyderabad today.

Pujara made 119 not out in a total of 307-5 after the Kiwis had made early inroads into the home batting line-up.

He found a useful ally in Virat Kohli, the pair adding 125 for the fourth wicket to frustrate the visitors in the afternoon session.

The composed performance of Pujara contrasted with the hurried innings of opener Virender Sehwag, who fell three runs shy of his half-century in the morning session with a rapid 47 off 41 balls.

Sehwag lived dangerously throughout, having been dropped early on and then seeing another dangerous shot whizz through the slips, and his luck caught up with him in the 15th over.

He could have few complaints, however, with a poor shot comfortably held by Martin Guptill at second slip off Doug Bracewell.

Only two overs earlier, he had received the second of his two let-offs, with a shot off Bracewell splitting the slips as Kruger van Wyk and Ross Taylor were left looking at each other.

In the ninth over, when on 23, he had been dropped by Daniel Flynn when offering a difficult chance at square leg off Chris Martin. Gambhir was the first to go, caught behind off Trent Boult (2-63) after making 22.

Following their departures, the run rate slowed but India made good progress despite the loss of Sachin Tendulkar early in the afternoon session for 19, undone by a fine Boult delivery that nipped back in to strike the middle stump.

Pujara and Kohli then put India on course fo a healthy first-innings total, and when the latter was dismissed, caught off Chris Martin for 58 Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in to help steer the home side to the close, and the prospect of a big score on the second day.

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