India’s No.3 Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed for 17 from 70 balls on Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG.
Responding to Australia’s first-innings score of 195, Cheteshwar Pujara and debutant Shubman Gill featured in a second-wicket stand of 61. Gill was looking good for a fifty on debut when he perished for 45, nicking a full-length delivery outside off from Pat Cummins
At 61 for 2, India needed a big score from their rock Cheteshwar Pujara. However, it wasn’t to be as the 32-year-old fell soon after. Unlike Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara got a brilliant delivery from Cummins that angled in and forced the batsman to play, only to move away at the last moment.
Cheteshwar Pujara got a healthy edge, and Aussie skipper Tim Paine took an excellent catch, diving full stretch to his right. The dismissal left India in trouble at 64 for 3 as Australia made a strong comeback. They subsequently recovered courtesy a half-century from skipper Ajinkya Rahane.
The latest failure continued a stretch of low scores of Cheteshwar Pujara in Test cricket. In fact, he hasn’t scored a Test century since India last visited Australia in 2018-19, when Pujara did a star turn with 521 runs in seven innings.
January 3, 2019, Sydney: The last time Cheteshwar Pujara scored a Test hundred
It’s a little hard to believe, but Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a Test century since his magnificent hundred in the 2019 New Year’s Test at Sydney.
The Saurashtra batsman made a stupendous 193 from 373 balls at Sydney with the aid of 22 fours. He looked set for a double hundred when he was dismissed caught and bowled, by Nathan Lyon.
In 17 innings since the Sydney Test, including the first innings at MCG, he has crossed fifty five times, but has failed to convert any of them into three figures.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s best in this period has been 81 against South Africa at Visakhapatnam in October 2019. Since the Sydney Test of 2019, Cheteshwar Pujara has scored only 474 runs in 11 matches at an average of 27.88.
In the current Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Cheteshwar Pujara has registered scores of 43, 0 and 17. He still has one more innings at Melbourne to set the record straight.
If he fails, it will be back to Sydney for Cheteshwar Pujara, the venue of his last Test hundred, for the New Year Test of 2021. (Unless of course COVID-19 ensures a change in venue)Published 27 Dec 2020, 12:02 IST