Cheteshwar Pujara scores the first 'daddy hundred' of the series
Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s current No.3 in Test cricket, has just surpassed his predecessor Rahul Dravid in terms of number of balls faced, as by the end of his marathon knock at the SCG in the first innings of the 4th Test against Australia, he had faced 1258 deliveries in this series, eclipsing The Wall’s record of 1203 deliveries faced, which he did way back in 2003-04.
This has been a bowler’s series so far and batsmen on either side with a very few exceptions have struggled throughout the series. In the midst of this, a very quiet and humble person has rediscovered himself, scoring 521 runs in 7 innings so far, scoring his third century of series with mammoth 193 at the SCG.
In a typical Australian summer where we are used to witnessing hundreds, big daddy hundreds being scored, we were starved of big hundreds till day 2 of the 4th Test. And eventually, there came a big daddy hundred, from the bat of none other than Cheteshwar Pujara as he left Australia nothing to work with but plead for mercy as he batted forever and ever throughout the course of this series.
With his 193 and batting effort of gigantic proportions, he has not only ruled Australia out of the match and Test Series but also made a mockery of Australia’s world-class bowling attack. Till the last Test, Australia had all the doubts in the world regarding their top six and their dismal show with the bat but were quite confident over the potency of their pace trio and Nathan Lyon’s effectiveness with the spin.
However, with India’s stellar performance with the bat in this Test alongside their heroics in the first innings at the MCG, of which Pujara has been a cornerstone, playing like a monk, unfazed, composed with immense patience would have certainly thrown the Aussie pace attack off, especially mentally, doubting themselves and their ability to produce magic when their backs are against the wall. Only time will tell on how well they come back from this kind of thrashing as they plan to keep one eye on future to retain the Ashes when they travel to England in later stages of this year.
Pujara, before the start of this year, was having a torrid year with lackluster performances in South Africa and England and was no happy traveller by any stretch of imagination. One month, 521 runs and 1258 balls later, he has answered his critics in mighty fine style by just batting and batting and batting for about more than 1800 minutes. If Virat Kohli’s 593 runs in England this summer was a watershed moment of his prolific career so far, this tour of Australia might go down in history books as the series that very much defines Pujara.