India opener Rohit Sharma (127 off 256 balls), riding his luck and supreme batting skills, scored his first overseas Test century to turn the tables on England and put the visitors in a commanding position after Day 3 of the fourth Test here on Saturday.
India were 270/3 at stumps, 171 runs ahead of England with skipper Virat Kohli (22) and Ravindra Jadeja (9) at the crease.
The Mumbai batsman, who has scored all his previous seven Test tons at home, played with grit and determination, curbing his natural instincts for the most part of his innings.
When Rohit and K.L. Rahul resumed India’s second innings on Friday, India were looking down the barrel with the hosts leading by 56 runs.
Sharma was dropped by Rory Burns in the third over of India’s second innings on Friday. He rode his luck again in the first session on Saturday, as Burns dropped him again before Chris Woakes misjudged a catch at mid-on.
Sharma during that phase was very circumspect and played close to his body. The England bowlers couldn’t extract the movement that they could from the pitch during the first day’s play on Thursday.
Sharma lost fellow opener Rahul (46) in the first session with India just 16 short of clearing the deficit. The duo had added 83 for the first wicket.
Cheteshwar Pujara (61 off 127 balls) then arrived at the crease and took the bowlers on. While Pujara is generally slow to start, he came with an aggressive attitude and started playing his shots, including an outrageous ramp shot over the slips that fetched him four.
India No. 3 raced along and moved to 36 off 49 balls.
India quickly took the lead as England bowlers and fielders found themselves on the edge.
While Sharma reached his half-century off 145 balls, the slowness being quite uncharacteristic of him, he raced to his century in just 204 balls, reaching the milestone with a straight six off Moeen Ali.
While Sharma shifted gears after his half-century, Pujara slowed down and dropped anchor, getting back to his old self.
The two shared 153 runs for the second wicket in 46 overs.
But India lost both Sharma and Pujara in quick succession in the first over with the second new ball. While Sharma mistimed a pull off Ollie Robinson to be caught at deep square-leg, Pujara was caught at slips after he edged the sixth ball of the over which hit his thigh before popping up to Moeen Ali.
India were 138 ahead at that stage. However, an unbeaten 33-run partnership between skipper Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja extended the lead to 171 at the draw of stumps.
Brief scores (Stumps, Day 3): India 191 and 270/3 in 92 overs (Rohit Sharma 127, Cheteshwar Pujara 61, Ollie Robinson 2/67, James Anderson 1/49) vs England 290.