Cheteshwar Pujara will play his 50th Test match for India when the second match against Sri Lanka gets underway on Thursday at the SSC in Colombo. Having made his debut in October 2010 with a brisk 72 off 89 balls to help power India to victory over Australia in Bangalore, Pujara’s career has gone through ups and downs but currenly he is India’s best Test batsman without any doubt.
The way he is scoring runs in the longest format of the game that shows his determination to succeed even more. But the international stage wasn’t as smooth for the Saurashtra batsman, who slogged through many ups and downs, before finally cementing his place in the Indian Test team. As the right-hand batsman enters his 50th Test, here’s a look back at his defining performances.
92 vs Australia in Bengaluru (March 2017)
This is one of those innings which Pujara rates as one of the greatest innings in his career. He fell only eight runs short of a truly deserved century but it was still a match-winning knock. India were bowled out for 189 runs in their first innings and Pujara had contributed only 17 of those. Australia in reply had posted 276 runs and India needed to produce something special on a difficult track to bat.
Each of the Indian batsmen failed again except Pujara (92) and Rahane (52). Their innings propelled them to a total of 274 runs and thus India set a target of 188 runs for Australia to chase.
Australia were eventually bowled out for 112 runs as a result of a superb bowling display from India. However, it was Pujara’s defiant innings that made the difference between an Australian and Indian victory and helped India level the match series 1-1.
202 vs Australia in Ranchi (March 2017)
Pujara’s best knock couldn’t have come at a better time than this. A double century against a powerful Australian bowling line-up. He faced 525 deliveries for his 202 runs and thus became the batsman to face the most number of deliveries in an innings in Indian Test history. His innings was also very important in the context of the game as Australia had piled up 451 runs in their first innings.
As a result of Pujara’s mammoth knock, India made their way to 603/9 before declaring their innings. It consumed a whole 4 days of the match. The match ultimately got drawn with Australia ending up with a second innings score of 204/6 on the final day.
Although the match didn’t produce any result of consequence, it did keep the series alive and most of the credit goes to Pujara’s innings.
87 vs New Zealand in Kolkata (September 2015)
Pujara’s knock of 87 runs off 219 deliveries helped India to clinch the series title in the second Test match of the 3-match series. India were tottering at 46/3 in one stage but Pujara went on to defensive mode and helped India recover from early blows.
He got able support from Ajinkya Rahane and stitched together a partnership of 141 runs for the for the fourth wicket. The interesting fact is that 78.16 percent of his runs came in boundaries, which amounted to a total number of 17.
That sums up the number of dot balls he played. However, that mattered the least in the context of the game as it got India on to a safe position. India scored 316 runs in that innings and later went on to win the match by 178 runs as a result of a superb bowling display.
206* vs England in Ahmedabad (November 2012)
Pujara was in the middle for nearly eight and an half hours as he posted his first-ever double century and introduced himself to the world. He was seen as India’s solution to the void left behind by Rahul Dravid. Pujara was at the crease for 389 deliveries and smashed 21 boundaries.
The knock helped India declare their first innings on a formidable total of 521. England were low on confidence from there on and were forced to follow on, before surrendering to India who clinched a nine-wicket win.
145* vs Sri Lanka ibn Colombo (August 2015)
In his first appearance since he was dropped in December 2014, Pujara picked up the Man-of-the-Match award for his superb unbeaten 145 in the first innings at the SSC in what was a deciding Test against Sri Lanka.
With Test series level at 1-1. Sri Lanka had made a strong start as they claimed wickets at regular intervals and reduced India to 173/6. They got the better of every Indian batsman, but not Pujara. He kept the scoreboard ticking and also held up one end. However, the real turning point came when he combined with Amit Mishra to build a partnership of 104 runs to take India to a strong position.
As a result of his fabulous innings, India went on to win the match by 117 runs and also won the series 2-1.