Australia vs India 2018, 1st Test: With the exit of legendary – Rahul Dravid, the Indian cricket team was in a desperate need of a perfect replacement who can provide the ideal foil in Test cricket’s most crucial batting position – No. 3. That’s when the emergence of Cheteshwar Puajra happened. Pujara’s batting style and unmatched hunger to survive on the crease earned him many such monikers in world cricket, some called him – the next ‘Wall’, Dravid 2.0 or Dravid’s clone. But, a very few thought that the man from Rajkot will carve out a niche for himself despite the glittery presence of other stars like – Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and all.
During the opening day of the first Test against Australia, Pujara once again exhibited his class and temperament which makes him a rare commodity in modern-day cricket. With wickets falling at the other end, the 30-year old held one end up and battled hard for runs against a dominating pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. Pujara’s 16th Test hundred and first in Australia helped India recover to 250/9 at stumps after they had been reduced to 127/6 at one stage.
What was interesting however was during his knock, Pujara also completed his 5000 runs in Test cricket. There is an even great coincidence that Pujara reached the milestone of 5K runs (108 innings) in rhe same number of Test innings as compared to his ‘idol’ Dravid.
Heights of Coincidence! Dravid and Pujara have reached their milestones of 3000 runs, 4000 runs and 5000 runs in Tests in the exact same number of innings.
3000 runs in 67 innings
4000 runs in 84 innings
5000 runs in 108 innings
Pujara showed the same grit and gumption that is typical of him en route a 246-ball 123 that kept India in the game against Aussies. It took a brilliant direct from Pat Cummins to remove him on what happened to be the final ball of an absorbing day one of the four-Test series.
Skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat in ideal conditions but the top-order once again failed to apply themselves against the potent pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Cummins.
Anything close to 250 looked a mountain to climb with India reeling at 56 for four at lunch. But Pujara stood tall amid the ruins to save India from embarrassment on way to his 16th Test ton. His fighting effort comprised seven fours and two sixes.
The 30-year-old put on two crucial partnerships with the lower-order batsmen to ensure India give their bowlers something to bowl at. Post tea, Pujara added 62 runs with R Ashwin (25) for the seventh wicket. The latter played watchfully, unlike the Indian top-order, and played a great role in this minor recovery.
Cummins (2-49) finally got the breakthrough in the 74th over when Ashwin edged to second slip. Ishant Sharma (4) then put on 21 runs with Pujara, pushing the score past 200 in the 79th over.
Ishant survived a loud lbw shout via DRS, but Mitchell Starc (2/63) bowled him with a fuller delivery thereafter. As he started to run out of partners, Pujara hit a few lusty blows to gather some quick runs.
Earlier, Pujara’s effort was the sole silver lining after India were reduced to 143/6 at tea. This was after a horrendous shot selection by Rohit Sharma (37) left India in the lurch at 86 for five in the 38th over.