During the opening Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval, Cheteshwar Pujara played fighting knocks for India, as he went on to register his 16th Test ton in the first innings and saved the day. The right-handed batsman held one end up even after the visitors had lost half their side for 86, Pujara’s innings took India to 250/9 at the stumps on the opening day.
The 30-year-old was finally dismissed for 123, with Pat Cummins coming up with a splendid effort to get him run out just before the close of play. But his innings gave India something to defend and ensured the first innings didn’t end on the first day, after electing to bat first.
Pujara wasn’t done with scoring key scores in the Test as he added 71 runs in the second innings to provide another push for the Indian team. His crucial knocks through the Test earned him the Man of the Match and took India to a 31 run win on the fifth and final.
But this isn’t the first time Pujara has saved India the blushes in a Test match. Here are some of the most memorable instances in the past when he fought hard to provide a safety net for the team:
1) India vs England 4th Test, Southampton, 2018
In the fourth Test against England, Pujara struck an unbeaten 132 in the first innings to ensure India took the lead at the end of Day 2.
The Indian bowlers had done well to bowl out the hosts for 246. Coming down to bat after the fall of KL Rahul and with just 37 runs on the board, the right-handed batsman struck 16 fours in his innings to give India a 27-run lead, despite wickets continuing to tumble at the other end. Unfortunately for India, it was not enough to save the match, and India fell short by 60 runs in the second innings to suffer a defeat.
2) India vs England 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2012
In the 2nd Test against England at Wankhede in 2012, Pujara showed his resilience as he faced the spin duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, who had wreaked havoc on the turning wicket. With the hosts’ highly valued batting line-up, consisting of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virat Kohli, failing to get runs on the board, it all was left to Pujara to see India got to a fighting total. Pujara scored 135 runs to take India to 327.
3) India vs Sri Lanka 1st Test, Kolkata, 2017
In a rain-curtailed Test, that effectively was reduced to a three-day encounter, Pujara showed his tenacity on Day 2, when the conditions at Eden Gardens were in Sri Lanka’s favour and had put India on the backfoot. After the first day was washed out, and the second day saw a delayed start due to rainfall, the damp greenish pitch saw Sri Lankan seamers use the conditions to rattle India’s top order.
Both KL Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli fell victim to Suranga Lakmal for ducks, and half India’s batting line-up had returned to the dugout with just 50 runs on the board. But amid the madness, Pujara dug deep to play out the day and showed his ability to defend under tough conditions. The right-handed batsman ignored all deliveries close to off-stump, played close to his body and only looked for loose deliveries to keep the scoreboard ticking. It wasn’t a high-scoring innings, he was dismissed for 52 on Day 3. But it was a controlled innings that saved the match for India.