HomeAnalysis#AUSvIND: Where does this 123-run ton stand in Pujara's...

#AUSvIND: Where does this 123-run ton stand in Pujara’s Test journey?

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Indian cricket team’s complete Test player Cheteshwar Pujara showed his prowess by putting a price on his wicket on Day 1 of the first Test against Australia being held in Adelaide. On a scorching hot day, the number three batsman came in when his side was reeling at 3/1 and batted the entire day almost.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara raises his bat after scoring a ton against Australia

A direct hit from Pat Cummins did him in, which interestingly came as the final ball of the day’s play. His defiant 123 will go down as one of the best innings by an Indian batsman on Australian soil. If one remembers fondly, then his predecessor – the legendary Rahul Dravid got a Test century here in Adelaide in the year in 2003.
In an era where players are mostly inclined towards T20 leagues and limited-overs international matches, someone like a Pujara echoes the sentiments of skipper Virat Kohli. It is the latter, who on many occasions has batted for Test cricket and its significance. Pujara was terrific and battled past the ghosts that deserted him in South Africa and England.
Pujara has 16 centuries to his name and this goes right up there in terms of the conditions and proceedings. Pujara stood firm for his country and registered the first century of the series. He played tough cricket and his eyes were as watchful as a hawk.
Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot down the leg side of Nathan Lyon

Not very ago Pujara was dropped for the first Test in England after a poor run in South Africa but regained his place after one game. But to be honest India needed to be patient with their top quality Test batsman. Without him India’s hole would be so deep if one would think.

Pujara’s grit the positive factor

On the day his compatriots were driving extravagantly at balls away from the stumps, but Pujara was prepared to let go. He waited for balls to come to his preferred areas and played shots accordingly. A wrist player, Pujara was able to send the ball through mid-wicket. He enjoyed balls that came to his zone.
He also drove the ball when it was full and cut deliveries when they were truly short. He batted almost the whole day as he stuck to the basics. The defining moment of the day for India was Pujara’s 62-run stand with Ashwin (25).

Pujara showed composure and solidity in this 246-ball innings.

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The Australians are no stranger to Pujara’s considerable powers of settling down in concentration. Last year, he blunted Australia’s attack in India with a fighting 92 in Bangalore. But this was well crafted on a fast pitch.

5,000 run-mark in Tests for Pujara

The innings also saw Pujara surpassing the 5,000-run mark in Test cricket. The right-handed batsman was the 12th Indian to get past this mark.

The stylish batsman needs 221 more runs to go past the legendary Kapil Dev (5,248 runs).

Pujara’s conversion rate needs to be lauded. He has 19 fifties in Test cricket. He has the joint-ninth highest Test tons by an Indian batsman.

Cheteshwar Pujara in all smiles at the dressing room.

And following the record-breaking spree, he also became the sixth Indian to smash a ton on the opening day of a Test match outside the subcontinent.

The composed Pujara joined an illustrious list that bode the likes of Vijay Manjrekar, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, and Murali Vijay. The 30-year-old took 108 innings to get to 5,000-run mark in Tests and in this process, he became the fifth fastest Indian to achieve the same.

Pujara’s sensibility stood out

For India, players like Rohit Sharma (37) and Rishabh Pant (25) got off to good starts, but they both threw it away. Pujara played some sensible cricket throughout the day.

He showed his authority and batting prowess to give India something to cheer for.

Cheteshwar Pujara scampers for a single against Australia in Adelaide.

India’s tally of 250/10 was largely down due to Pujara. That gave them the momentum which wouldn’t have come if they would have been bowled out inside 200. Pujara’s 246-ball gritty knock was laced with seven boundaries and two sixes.

The timing of the century was fine as well as he brought it up in 232 deliveries.

Pujara’s best in SENA countries

Pujara had managed just two tons prior to this in SENA countries. This was only his 3rd ton. But going by his career, this century ranks high up there. A ton in Australia against a famed attack is always a special feat in every cricketer’s life, but the situation from where he carved out the dish was a delight on the platter for his team and the fans.

In the press conference following his ton, Pujara was filled with a sense of gratitude. “It is one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five,” Pujara said. “The way the team-mates appreciated it, they were saying it was one of the best.”

Cheteshwar Pujara raises his bat after scoring his 16th career Test ton.

We agree on this whole heartedly. He needed this innings after missing out in England where he scored a half-century in Nottingham. Now the main aspect for the player is to keep his head down once again and show teeth and solidity as a player. Not many in today’s world has the character to bat with such finesse and patience, barring Pujara.
One should also remember he is very much different from the Fab Four.

He has the persona of Dravid

Pujara was always touted to fill in the shoes of the legendary Rahul Dravid. Many felt he has the gusto and calmness to shine like his predecessor. Dravid was a champion number 3 batsman, and Pujara was likened to ‘The Wall’.
But with time Pujara’s inability to play outside Asia hurt him. With 13 out of his 16 centuries coming in Asia, the statistics show he is a king at home. But to be recognized worldwide, he has to score more consistently outside the subcontinent.

Cheteshwar Pujara plays a pull shot against Australia in Adelaide.

Perhaps, this is just the start for Pujara to battle past the mental blockage and perform well outside home. He has worked his way out and that is beautiful in a manner. The statistics of reaching 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 runs for Pujara in Tests resembles exactly in terms of innings taken like Dravid.
The numbers are there, but from here on he has to be more crafty to have an impact like Dravid did in his era. One cannot compare him to the legend, but Pujara could slowly get to the place in a similar zone in terms of the fight Dravid showed when the chips were down on numerous occasions.

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