With his century for Saurashtra against Karnataka on Day 1 of the fifth round of the Ranji Trophy 2019-20, Cheteshwar Pujara entered an elite list of Indian cricketers. The century was Pujara’s 50th in First-Class Cricket, with which he became the ninth Indian batsman to do so. Other prominent names in this list features Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid VVS Laxman and others. Also Read - ICC Test Rankings: Rohit Sharma Attains Career-Best 8th Position in Batsmen's List; Ravichandran Ashwin Climbs to 3rd in Bowlers' Tally
Out of these 100 centuries, 18 have come in Tests. Pujara finished the day unbeaten on 162, taking his tally of runs in First-Class cricket to 15350 runs and counting. The century was also Pujara’s first in four games this Ranji Trophy season to go with two half-centuries prior to this against Uttar Pradesh and Railways. Also Read - Amit Shah Wants Cheteshwar Pujara to Score Double Century And Help India Beat England in Pink-Ball Test at Narendra Modi Stadium
“It does feel special. It’s a proud moment, although you don’t want to look too much into your stats. At least while you are playing. Because even when I am batting I am hardly aware if I am nearing the 50 or 100. I actually don’t even remember the number of Test matches I have played and the number of runs I have scored. When someone else is discussing it, you come to know,” Pujara told ESPNCricinfo. Also Read - Chennai Super Kings Get Cheteshwar Pujara For Rs 50 Lakh; Will Play in IPL After 2014
“At times [such records] also motivate you to work harder on your game. You start trusting your game even more because not many players have achieved this feat. You know that you have some talent, and you need to keep working on your game and continue doing the same things. And when such moments come in your career you feel, yes, for whatever you have done in the past you have got the results, and then there are the stats you can look at.”
Pujara is ninth on the list with Gavaskar and Tendulkar leading the chart with 81 FC hundreds each. The likes of Vijay Hazare, Dilip Vengsarkar, Wasim Jaffer and Mohammad Azharuddin are also in the list. However, of the current active crop of cricketers, the closest candidate to Pujara is former Australia captain Steve Smith, with 42 tons. Pujara’s India teammates Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane are next in line with 34 and 32 centuries respectively and have some distance to go.