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Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

November 15, 2013 15:08 IST

Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

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Haresh Pandya

With his fifth Test hundred, the Saurashtra batsman has conclusively proved he is here to stay, says Haresh Pandya.

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Amid unprecedented excitement, hysteria and hype surrounding Sachin Tendulkar's retirement, Cheteshwar Pujara quietly stole the thunder in his characteristic style.

The unassuming lad's polished, eye-pleasing 113, the fifth century in his still flourishing career of only 15 Tests, may not have overshadowed the Master Blaster, but it must have pleased Tendulkar no end, because it had all the ingredients of a true Test innings he himself had played umpteen times.

Pujara is one of those technically sound and high-scoring batsmen who is unlikely to fail often enough. A long innings is usually on the cards whenever he is dismissed cheaply, though rarely, in his previous innings.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

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Haresh Pandya

Having failed to live up to his growing reputation as a run-hungry batsman in the first Test at EdenGardens in Kolkata, he was bound to explode at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. With the maestro to inspire him from the other end, Pujara was expected to play a splendid, if not stirring, innings.

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And it was a connoisseur's delight to watch Tendulkar and Pujara during their 144-run third-wicket partnership that consolidated the Indian innings substantially. While Tendulkar was scintillating in strokeplay, Pujara was solid in  defence and sure in the shots executed with sweet timing, particularly off the backfoot.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

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Haresh Pandya

On Thursday itself, when he was unconquered along with the master, Pujara had offered glimpses of things to come on Friday.

He took his own time to complete his fifty, as Tendulkar was more aggressive at the other end. But once he reached his half-century, he began cutting loose, as it were, and was playing the West Indian bowlers with effortless brilliance.

He had to bear the emotional moment that engulfed the entire stadium when Tendulkar fell for 74. But he recovered pretty soon and headed towards his fifth Test century without much ado and without curbing his natural game. That he does not like to waste time even when he was into the ‘Nervous 90s’, in cricketing parlance, was proved again today.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

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Haresh Pandya

As he has often said, he does not like to get out. And getting out for 113 when he looked set to play a big innings must have disappointed him. But Pujara has conclusively proved that he is here to stay and centuries will just keep flowing from his bat, just as much as they did from the majestic Tendulkar willow, albeit in a different manner altogether.

Pujara may have scored all his five Test hundreds, including two double centuries, on Indian soil, and carping critics may have a reason or two to say that he has yet to prove himself overseas on lively pitches and against better, even threatening, attacks. But, then, it is just that he has not got opportunities to play abroad with the senior Indian team. He missed major tours of the West Indies, England and Australia due to injury. But he did win encomiums from those whose views matter in cricket when he played two Tests in South Africa in 2010, shortly after making an impressive debut against Australia at Bangalore.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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Cheteshwar Pujara proves his class, and hunger for runs

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Haresh Pandya

Granted he did not score many runs in the land of rand, but he was impressive with his technique against Dale Steyn and other fast bowlers on green, fast and bouncy pitches. He showed good application and character for one so young and inexperienced.

One of the greats of the game to be highly impressed by Pujara was Gundappa Viswanath, who said that the young right-hander has the class, which includes technique and temperament, to succeed at the highest level.

Pujara has more than justified Viswanath's observation by plundering runs against all the teams he has played since his return to the Indian team.

His best may just be round the corner.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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