Cheteshwar Pujara’s Patient Journey from Bangalore to Brisbane: 2021

Pujara is a part of a rare breed of Cricketers in many ways. For one, he toiled hard in the domestic circuit for five years before getting his first Test call-up. He didn’t try changing his style to become a multi-format player and accepted the rock’s role in the Indian side. He scored heaps of […]

  • Cricket Winner | January 26, 2021 | 12:46 pm

Pujara’s Test career kicked off in Bangalore back in 2010

Pujara is a part of a rare breed of Cricketers in many ways.

For one, he toiled hard in the domestic circuit for five years before getting his first Test call-up.

He didn’t try changing his style to become a multi-format player and accepted the rock’s role in the Indian side.

He scored heaps of runs and finally earned his debut against Australia in Bangalore, 2010.

His Test career started in an unlucky manner.

After challenging work to earn a call-up, a Sachin Tendulkar double-century kept Pujara padded up and waiting for a long time.

He walked in to bat and received a low-lying delivery to go back early.

A tough start to his career, Pujara got redemption in the second innings.

With India set a target of 207, Pujara was promoted above his idol, Rahul Dravid, and steered the chase, batting with another model in Sachin Tendulkar.

He scored his runs at an unusually higher pace and finished with 72.

He cemented his place with a century at home against New Zealand and a double century against England.

His patient style was useful but would, later on, receive criticism when gone wrong.

Following Rahul Dravid’s retirement, Pujara took the number three spot and proved his ability overseas, running in South Africa.

His first obstacle came in 2014, as the batsman struggled in England and couldn’t convert his starts in Australia.

His intent came into question for the first time.

With players like Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane rotating strike with ease, the approach came into doubt.

India lost both series, and Pujara’s place was in doubt, as the side looked for players with more intent.

The value of Pujara was ignored, as they rotated him and even tried him as an opener.

Come the home season in 2016, Cheteshwar found himself back in the side.

With the pitches taking more spin and batting being more challenging for Indian batsmen, Pujara’s play style was useful.

He played all thirteen Tests of the home season and was India’s leading run-scorer while facing the most deliveries.

He defended and kicked balls away with ease, and his patience was rewarded.

His playstyle was particularly effective against Australia, who surprised India with a beautiful win in Pune.

They came well prepared, and Virat Kohli struggled throughout the series, as the spinners troubled India.

Facing the Australian spinners, Pujara showed wonderful character during the series.

He was crucial in helping India bounce back in Bangalore and ground the Australian bowlers in Ranchi, as India drew the third Test.

He played over five hundred balls for his 202, as the Indian batsman couldn’t convert their starts, and helped the side get a good lead.

The knock wore the Australian bowlers out, and by the end of the tour, Pujara was India’s leading run-scorer.

The dream season allowed India to put the intent discussions away, and India’s number three became a regular fixture again.

With overseas assignments on the horizon, questions came up again regarding Pujara’s ability overseas.

He struggled in the first two Tests in South Africa, getting run-out often, but erased doubts in his own silent way.

On a treacherous Johannesburg pitch, Pujara faced 179 balls for his half-century.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara bats on the first day of their third cricket test match against India in Indore, India,Saturday, Oct 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

With unplayable deliveries, Pujara offered his body and took a lot of painful blows. Still, his stay allowed India to get a good score and pull a consolation win on one of the most rigid surfaces in South Africa.

Despite the effort, Pujara’s spot came into question again as he was dropped for the first Test in England.

He made a comeback for the second Test and played in his usual style, making another magnificent century at Nottingham.

He remained not-out and took the side to a lead despite the others struggling.

The century put the critics away from Pujara as he held his spot on the Australian tour, which turned out to be a turning point in his career.

Facing Australia at home, India was expected to do better in Smith and Warner’s absence, while the bowling attack improved.

Despite the expectations, India lost four wickets on the first morning, reminding the fans of old and painful memories.

Pujara once again showed terrific character with wickets falling, making 123 runs, batting mostly with the tail.

He changed gears well and ensured India get a good score on the board.

He followed his 123 with a 71 in the second innings and was the match’s man, as India won the first Test.

After a good century in Adelaide, Pujara continued to prove his worth with another patient century on boxing day.

He built some excellent partnerships with Agarwal and Kohli as India went on to win the boxing day Test.

With two centuries in three Tests, Pujara made the series better than it seemed, with a spectacular Sydney performance.

India’s top order was dismissed after getting starts, and Pujara played a knock similar to the one in Ranchi to get India to a good score.
He made 193 and proved his ability overseas.

The match ended in a draw, but Pujara won the man of the game and man of the series award.

He was the best batsman on tour and proved that his playstyle still has a modern-day Cricket place.

With Australia conquered, Pujara went on to have a quiet home series and returned to Australia in 2020 with higher expectations.

This time around, Australia was well planned for him, and Cummins enjoyed some excellent battles.

The tour was probably the most significant test of India’s character as the side kept losing players.

Pujara was among the only two players to last four Tests, and his contributions were immense even though they may not look beautiful on the scorecard.

He made three half-centuries but managed to play a handful of deliveries, finishing with 928 deliveries in the series.

In Sydney, Pujara made a slow and patient half-century in the first innings, which met with criticism.

Pat Cummins had also stated the strike-rate of Pujara was helpful to the Australians rather than the Indians.

Pat Cummins found ways to strangle Pujara throughout the series, bowling magnificent lines and not giving anything away.

Despite all that was said, Pujara continued to play in his style as India were chasing 407.

He made another fifty and began to accelerate as the day went on but was dismissed by Hazlewood for 77.

However, his patient knock was lauded around as India managed to save the Test and tire the bowlers.

The draw was a moral victory for the Indians, who lost a handful of stars throughout the series, and faced their biggest Test at the Gabba.

Batting second in the Gabba, the grind continued with Cheteshwar, and India hung on throughout the Test to leave them with a slight chance of saving the Test on the final day.

Facing a stiff target of 328 on the final day, the odds were against India.

With the challenges thrown against them, Pujara took it upon himself to hold one end as Shubman Gill and later Rishabh Pant scored freely around him.

With the other batsmen finding runs, India’s number three absorbed all the pressure and was immovable, as Australia threw everything at him.

He took countless blows on the body and was unfazed with the strike rate.

He didn’t get tempted to take on the bowling like his partners and made 56 off 211 balls.

His knock helped India stay in the game, as it prevented a collapse and may go down as an underrated knock.

The knock also allowed Pujara to prove to the critics that his playstyle is still required in Test cricket.

He proved that determination pays off, as he wore balls on the body and still fought on in a series that saw many injuries.

After receiving a shooter and fighting back with a half-century in Bangalore, Pujara certainly has come a long way, and his sacrifice and grit are one of the key factors behind the win in Brisbane.

He has shown that the side needs a rock and has absorbed everything thrown at him, and India will hope he continues to do so, with more challenges ahead.

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