Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Cheteshwar Pujara becomes Saurashtra’s first T20 centurionhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/syed-mushtaq-ali-trophy-cheteshwar-pujara-saurashtra-vs-railways-5593984/

Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Cheteshwar Pujara becomes Saurashtra’s first T20 centurion

This is the first time a player has scored a century for Saurashtra in the shortest format of the game. It is also Cheteshwar Pujara’s first T20 century, having scored six half-centuries in the past.

Cheteshwar Pujara struck his maiden T20 ton vs Railways. (File photo)

Considered to be a Test cricket specialist, Cheteshwar Pujara showed he is versatile enough to adapt his game to the other formats as well when he scored an unbeaten 61-ball century for Saurashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Pujara scored his maiden T20 ton against Railways at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, in Group C of the tournament leading Saurashtra to 188/3 after 20 overs on Thursday (February 21). However, it eventually came in a losing cause with Railways winning by five wickets with two balls to spare.

This is the first time a player has scored a century for Saurashtra in the shortest format of the game. It is also Pujara’s first T20 century, having scored six half-centuries in the past.

He has played 58 T20 games in the past and scored 1096 runs at an average of 25.48 and strike rate of 105.18. His previous best was a 55-ball 81 against Jammu and Kashmir in the same tournament in 2016.

Pujara, 31, is generally overlooked for the cash-rich Indian Premier League as he is considered to be a batsman suited for the longer versions. He came out to open the innings for the Ranji Trophy finalists and hit 14 fours and a six.

The opening pairing of Pujara and Harvik Desai put together 85 runs for the first wicket in 8.5 overs with the latter contributing 34 runs to the tally.

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Pujara took 29 balls to reach his half century and after Desai’s dismissal, was well supported by Robin Uthappa. They added 82 runs for the second wicket and took Saurashtra beyond the 150 run mark.

In reply, Mrunal Devdhar and Pratham Singh gave Railways a strong start to put together 73 runs for the opening wicket before the former fell to Prerak Mankad. Abhinav Dixit played a 30-ball 37 run cameo in the middle order to provide the boost needed in the last 10 overs.

Dixit and Ashish Yadav put together 57 runs for the fifth wicket to steer Railways to 20 runs from the target with two overs to spare. Harsha Tyagi chipped in with 7-ball 16 to give them the win.