Cheteshwar Pujara 2.0: The one who impressed us all
For a traditionalist, who has been watching and following Test cricket across ages, the essence of the format doesn't lie in batsman blazing away and scoring at the rate of knots although even they might fancy watching Virender Sehwag bat. Who doesn't?
But for a majority of the supporters, Test cricket is more valued when batsman grinds it out, gives the bowler his due and makes most of the opportunity when it arrives.
In today's times, it is often called as 'having a contest between bat and ball'.
In this present team, there are a lot of batsmen who don't fit into the category of traditional, although each of them has got a good technique to handle pace bowling.
All like to play at a brisk pace. After all, Test cricket is living in the era of T20s and slam-bang cricket.
Amidst them,however, is a player whom the traditionalist will feel proud about in these changing times.
Cheteshwar Pujara is not like your modern-day top-order batsman. He is not a Joe Root, who likes to move things along and neither is a Steve Smith, who has succeeded with a very unconventional technique.
He is a classist and among the few who can play the gritty, tough innings that old timers want to watch.You would think that on most days captains would want such players in the team.
Until a skipper like Virat Kohli comes along. In trying to take the match forward, he drops Pujara and inserts Rohit Sharma at 3. Few find it to be a brave call. Few object it. Rohit is tried and even after several failures, he is kept there.
For a player to succeed at the position, patience is a virtue, that is imperative and while his stay there,Rohit failed to show that in any of the chances that received.Pujara gets drafted back into the lineup and given his number three duties back.
But Kohli is once again not happy, this time, because he is too slow and can neither hit fours regularly nor rotate strike. He is once again put out of favour and now needs to find a way to get back.
He went back and worked. Worked on his game to suit the team's needs and in the process, altered his actual game which made him who he was.During the entire duration of the New Zealand series, we saw a different Number 3 stride out.
Not the one the traditionalist would like, but neither the one they would oppose to.
There was a purpose in Pujara's play. He was eager to show that he could bat at a faster rate and every time he batted in that positive, assertive manner, you could see his confidence grow.
By the end of the series, it had grown to the extent that he was coming down the track to a bowler of the pace of Trent Boult and smashing the ball past him for a four.
The look on his face after he had done that said it all. He was conveying a message, as if to say, " I am back and am a changed player now,"
All the omissions had made Pujara alter his natural play, but as he might have realised, it did him a lot of good and this new version of Pujara provides us with a lot to look forward to in Tests.