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Australia vs India 2018-19: It could only have been a Pujara special in a moment of catastrophe

ANALYST
Feature
357   //    07 Dec 2018, 00:39 IST

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara

With Mitchell Starc on your heels, Josh Hazlewood breathing fire, Pat Cummins spreading the fear of death in your mind and a hostile Adelaide Oval crowd baying for your blood, only one man could have come out on the other end victorious - Cheteshwar Pujara.

If Australia had won the first day of the series with sangfroid, India too had shown that they were not going to take any of it lying down. At the end of the day, it was one of India's own who displayed the grit and courage to survive in these testing conditions.

While KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and captain Virat Kohli all fell prey to poor shot selection and an startling lack of patience, it was the man from Rajkot who decided to write his name on an honours board where another Indian number 3, a certain Bangalorean called Rahul Dravid, had etched his in 2003.

Pujara's innings was symbolic of everything that is good about the man, his values and the weight of the nation he carries on his shoulders. Having said that, this is Pujara's first hundred on Australian soil, and one that he is unlikely to forget for a long time.

Standing tall when the world was against him and when all his famed compatriots chose glamour over obstinacy, Pujara's innings was an example of perfect Test match batsmanship. Getting out only on what proved to be the last ball of the day, that too by committing suicide, will hurt Pujara. But nothing can take away from this gem of a knock.

Some years down the line a few Indian cricket fans will remember Rohit Sharma's flair and Rishabh Pant's exuberance more vividly, but a few will also give credit to Pujara for his doggedness. When all seemed lost and India looked like conceding both the Test match and their self-esteem, he gave everyone watching a lesson in application.

Leaving the ball when pitched outside off and driving it only when it was full enough to touch his toes, Pujara gave a beautiful masterclass on how to bat in testing conditions.

His last Test hundred came in England on India's ill-fated tour this year, and the results suggest that there will be no stopping Pujara in overseas conditions now. He has the technique and the mental make-up to become the best number three in the world, and it is time that he keeps putting himself up there with special knocks such as the one he played in Adelaide on Thursday.

His predecessor at the number 3 spot for India might be a little bit proud of his protege today.

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ANALYST
A cricketer by profession and writer by passion, Mohul writes about cricket, football and tennis.
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