MUMBAI: R Ashwin's support was crucial in young batsman Cheteshwar Pujara scoring a century on Friday and the India spinner says it would have been a "shame" had his colleague missed out on a hundred.
Pujara was going strong while other top-order batsmen struggled but the young batsman found an able ally in Ashwin, who supported him well with a magnificent 60.
Ashwin had joined Pujara when six top Indian batsmen were cooling their heels back in the pavilion and stayed with him till the end of the play.
Ashwin lauded Pujara's technical efficiency and his controlled knock.
"I thought it was a brilliant knock. The amount of time he trusted his defense and kept on defending was brilliant. He eased the nerves as he batted on, defending beautifully. I thought it was a very well paced knock and it would have been a shame if he had not got a hundred," said Ashwin after the first day's play.
Pujara, who came into the second Test with an unbeaten double hundred (206) and 41 not out in the first Test, ended the day with an unbeaten knock of 114.
The 25-year-old's knock rescued India from deep trouble as India were struggling at 119 for 5 at one stage and ended the day at a more comfortable 266 for 6.
Pujara and Ashwin (60) shared a partnership of 97 for the unfinished seventh wicket.
Ashwin said Pujara's run-appetite was phenomenal. "He has great temperament, he is in great form and he keeps on grinding the runs and even in domestic cricket he does not get small hundreds, he gets big ones," said Ashwin, adding they knew each other from teenage.
"We have played together since 16-17 years old. We have been at the national cricket academy and all that," he said.
Ashwin, who scored his second half-century, said though his team was not out of trouble, they can put pressure on England by piling on more runs on Saturday.
"We batted pretty well to be at the position where we are. There is lot of work to be done. We are not totally out of the woods. We need to gather a few more runs. The morning session will be crucial, we need to just pass the 350 mark and I think we have the game really on," Ashwin said.
The wily off-spinner also praised the strip saying it something for both the spinners and fast bowlers.
"The wicket has more bounce than Ahmedabad which was low and slow. There is enough bounce to encourage fast bowlers who can bend their backs as was shown even at the end of the day's play. It is one of the best wickets in the country and when it starts spinning, it becomes quite tough to bat on unless you get through the first 15-20 minutes," he said.
Talking about his own knock, he said he did not do anything different. Ashwin batted confidently and was even aggressive as he struck England pace spearhead James Anderson for three fours in an over with the second new ball.
"I just batted the way I know to bat. I have always batted like this. I used my feet up and down. We don't go into any Test with any particular total in mind," he explained.