The unsung hero of Indian cricket Cheteshwar Pujara scripted a great revival of Indian batting and made big impact in the series by scoring the first century from the Indian side. Having tasted defeated in the Pune test, the Indian revival saw the one drop batsman is in prolific form and the late order batting revolved round him to make a huge impact and put up a big score in the run chase. He is confidence personified in facing both pace and spin and revealed his keen interest to stay long at the wicket.
Pujara added over 100 runs with opener Murali Vijay to steady the ship after the fall of Rahul and stood firm when the chips were down after the dismissal of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and R. Ashwin. Later on he stitched a partnership with wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha and made a match of it. Indian team owes much to the punishing blades of Pujara as he fashioned a recovery and help the side to go from strength to strength. The Indian batting revolves round the Saurashtra batsman for sometime now. Pujara’s long vigil at the wicket means business and he provides the base for better things to happen in tough series like the one against Australians.
Australians were hard pressed to get him out and that is turning point in an evenly matched series. India took control of the Ranchi Test after a superb Day 4 with both bat and ball. Cheteshwar Pujara was the hero of the day for the home team, scoring his third double hundred in Tests. India declared their innings at 603 for nine thanks to his 11th test century. Saha with his useful century helped Pujara to add 199 runs for the seventh wicket to virtually shut the door on Australia’s chances of winning the test. It was Saha’s 3rd test ton.
In first class cricket, Pujara has scored 11 double hundreds and became the joint number one for most double tons with Vijay Merchant. He also became the first player to go past 2000 runs in first-class cricket in a season in India. He currently has 2007 runs from 27 innings this season, 1259 of those coming in Test matches. With this performance people are comparing him with the wall, Rahul Dravid.
Test match cricket is nothing but building partnership and both Pujara and Saha learned the art very well. Their association came up at an appropriate moment to put India on the driver’s seat and helped the team to make a match of it at Ranchi.
The fruitful partnership saw Indian team comfortably ascended into a 152 runs lead and provided to apply pressure on the visitors. His 206 not out against England and the subsequent 204 against Australia in the past all helped the home team accomplish facile wins. Both the centurions played in the same approach in the Irani Cup stand that helped the Rest of India side to beat Gujarat in style. Both applied themselves to the task and it is now history. Two is a company and it is total commitment in cornering the Kangaroos in our backyard.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)