“I am not surprised by the ton, but I am sure people are”, says Cheteshwar Pujara
What's the story?
Cheteshwar Pujara's 61-ball hundred against Railways in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy got people talking. While one may say that it is too little too late as the IPL auction is over, this particular knock will give him a world of confidence.
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Pujara hit 14 fours and a six and batted with a strike rate of 163.93. Pujara looked in good touch, after all, he amassed runs in Australia and then belted his colleagues in domestic cricket. He carried his bat through the innings as Saurashtra got to 188/3 in their 20 overs.
While he scored the first fifty in 32 balls, Pujara achieved the next half of the runs in three fewer deliveries. Though the knock went in vain as Railways snatched a win, this is a good start from a reliable source in a different platform. The recent ton in the shortest format of the game didn't surprise the man himself, but he is aware of the reactions around the globe.
The heart of the matter
The 31-year-old feels the hundred has come just at the right time in his career, having stamped a reputation for himself. With no questions hovering around his Test spot, this might well be an ideal time to explore other formats. "It is special. This was expected because I have done well whenever I have got the opportunity in white-ball cricket. I am not surprised by this century, but I am sure many people are. I knew this one would come at some stage in my career, and this is the right time. I have been really batting well" Pujara told ESPN Cricinfo.
He hasn't played the IPL since his last stint with Kings Xi Punjab, back in 2014, but Pujara hasn't lost all hopes yet. He always puts his name in the bidding war with a hope that he will get a date with the white ball in arguably the most popular franchise cricket in the world.
Pujara said that he thinks twice before putting his name in the IPL drafts. "I think twice for sure (gone unsold). I put my name in because somewhere down the line I am very confident about playing white ball, whether it is ODI or T20. If I am not picked, I am not picked. But with such results, if I can carry on like this, people will start noticing." he added.
With India's next Test series slated in July in the Caribbean, Pujara is likely to feature regularly for his state in the T20 league. Consistent show in white-ball cricket will boost his confidence and moreover present a case for himself. With India yet to find stability in the middle and some of the big names rumoured to be near the finishing line, Pujara's optimism shouldn't be questioned.