Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the most reliable test cricketers in Indian test cricket history. He is known for his temperament to play for longer duration without becoming aggressive. With his patience, he can irritate any bowler and make them give away freebies. Playing at No.4, he is carrying the load of India's batting in tests.
In 61 tests, Pujara has scored 4635 runs at an average of 49.31 with 18 half-centuries and 14 centuries. Though he has only played in 61 tests till date, it is safe to say he will probably end up as one of the top 5 Indian test cricketers of all time.
Pujara who is seen as the right replacement for Rahul Dravid in tests has played some really good knocks in test cricket in a very short span of time. We look at five of the highest scoring innings of his test career.
#5 153 vs Sri Lanka at Galle, 2017
India visited Sri Lanka for a 3-matches test series in 2017. In the first test, India won the toss and chose to bat first. India lost its opener Abhinav Mukund for just 12 runs and the team was struggling at 27-1. Pujara who then walked in at No.3 went on to build a partnership of 253 runs with Shikhar Dhawan. He scored 153 off 265 balls with 13 fours. Dhawan scored 190 off 168 with 31 fours and a terrific strike rate of 113.10. India posted 600 runs on the scoreboard.
Sri Lanka who then came in to bat only scored 291 runs in the first innings. Jadeja picked up 3 wickets for 67 runs. India did not enforce the follow-on and scored 240 for the loss of 3 wickets before they decided to declare.
With a very high target of 550, Sri Lanka got bundled out for just 245 runs and India won by 304 runs. Jadeja and Ashwin picked up 3 wickets each. Though Dhawan was rightly man of the match for his blazing knock, Pujara's innings was appreciated by everyone and will be remembered as one of the most crucial knocks of his career.
#4 159 vs New Zealand at Hyderabad, 2012
The first test of the 2013 India-New Zealand 2-matches test series happened at Hyderabad. India won the toss and chose to bat first. India did not get a great start and lost both of its openers and were struggling at 77-2. Pujara then built a crucial 125-run partnership with Virat Kohli and saved the day for India. He scored 159 runs off 309 deliveries with 19 fours and 1 six. Pujara was also involved in a 127-run partnership with MS Dhoni. India managed to get to 438 in their first innings.
New Zealand came out to bat and were dismissed for a very cheap 159, thanks to Ashwin's 6/31. India then enforced the follow-on and the story was no different in the second innings as the visitors were bundled out for just 164 runs, Ashwin again picked up 6 wickets. India won the game by an innings and 115 runs.
With the momentum on their side from this win, India then went on to win the second test in Bengaluru and clinched the series 2-0.
#3 202 vs Australia at Ranchi, 2017
India were playing Australia in the third test of the 2017 Border-Gavaskar trophy. After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Australia made a huge total 451 with Steve Smith and Maxwell both scoring centuries.
India in its reply got a good start from the openers, Vijay and Rahul. Both the openers scored crucial half-centuries but it was Pujara who again saved the day for India scoring a much needed 202 off 525 deliveries. His innings was filled with patience and scored only 21 fours. Wriddhiman Saha also chipped in scoring 117 off 233. Pujara-Saha duo registered a brilliant partnership of 199 runs before the former got out. India got all-out for 603 and secured a 152-run first innings lead.
Australia then made 204/6 in its second innings and the match ended in a draw. This match-saving innings from Pujara will be remembered forever by the cricketing fraternity and Pujara was handed the man of the match award.
#2 204 vs Australia at Hyderabad, 2013
In the second test of the 2013 Border-Gavaskar trophy, Australia won the toss and chose to bat first in Hyderabad. The Aussies scored 237, thanks to Clarke's 91 and Wade's 62. Bhuvaneswar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja both picked up 3 wickets each to restrict the Kangaroos to a low score.
India then came out to bat and posted a huge total of 503 before they got all-out. Murali Vijay scored 167 and Pujara scored yet another double-century with 204 off 341 deliveries. Pujara's innings included 30 fours and 1 six. The Vijay-Pujara duo stitched together a huge partnership of 370 runs before the former got dismissed.
In the second innings, Australia were all-out for 131. Ashwin caused the destruction with 5/63. India won the game by an innings and 135 runs and went 2-0 up in the 4-matches test series. Pujara was the man of the match for his double-century that gave India a huge 266 -run first innings lead.
#1 206* vs England at Ahmedabad, 2012
England visited India in 2012 for the Pataudi Trophy. The first test was in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, which was Pujara's home-state. India won the toss and chose to bat first. India got a good start with the openers Gambhir and Sehwag building a 134-run partnership for the first wicket. Gambhir was the first man to go and Pujara who came in No.3 went on to score his maiden double-century scoring an unbeaten 206. His innings included 21 fours and faced 389 deliveries. India declared at 521/8.
England in return could only score a mere 191 runs before they got bundled all-out, thanks to Ojha's 5/45. India enforced the follow-on and England in their second innings made a good score of 406 on the back of Cook's 176 off 374, but the 330 runs trail they had in the first innings meant India had to chase only 77.
India then chased it down easily with 9 wickets remaining. With his double-century in the first innings of this game, Pujara sent out a statement to the entire cricketing community that he is here to stay and fill Rahul Dravid's boots. Pujara was rightly adjudged man of the match for his brilliant knock.