Home > Features >

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara — a partnership made in Heaven

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara — a partnership made in Heaven

It was heartening to see Cheteshwar Pujara (L) and Murali Vijay craft their partnership © PTI

By Rajaram Suresh

The slow and low sub-continent pitches have witnessed many a mammoth partnership, usually involving a minimum of one seasoned Test batsman. Be it the epic in the Eden Gardens where VVS Laxman etched the number 281 in the annals of Test history, or the humongous 400-run stand for the first wicket between Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid, where the former bludgeoned his way to a triple ton. The examples are one too many. But when two batsmen, relatively new to the Test arena, dug their boots deep into Hyderabadi soil, one couldn’t help but pity the listless Aussie attack, which once boasted of greats like Ray Lindwall, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara concocted an impeccable mix of concentration and resolve for 658 balls. Contrary to natural instinct, Vijay was the subdued contributor, and Pujara the free-flowing bat. While Vijay reached his highest-ever in Tests, his partner fell short of his highest by two runs. However, Pujara ensured he crossed the 200-mark for the second time in his nascent Test career, which already boasts of four centuries. The duo’s 370 supplanted India’s record second wicket partnership set by Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath in Sydney — 224 against Australia in 1986.

Pujara, fondly called the ‘Mini Wall’, has seamlessly moved into the No 3 slot that his predecessor, Dravid, so awesomely manned for a very long time. His appetite for big scores is insatiable; his footwork is incredibly precise. He batted as if this was his last chance to wield the willow; he put a huge price on his wicket, refusing to budge from the 22 yards. His knee niggle didn’t prevent him either from scampering for a double to reach his hundred, or from responding to his partner’s call whenever a tight single could be squeezed. For someone who looks so much at ease playing the back-foot cover drive, one could be assured that he could very well be the one to resurrect the team in bouncy foreign pitches, in the event of an opening collapse —currently one of India’s gravest concerns.

Vijay, on the other hand, took guard in Hyderabad after two soft dismissals in the first Test — missing a full delivery and scooping a half-volley to extra cover. They were dismissals which didn’t reflect his calibre, and certainly didn’t do his confidence any good. He realised the need for a big score; he had been given his chances in the past, but didn’t respond with consistency. With Gautam Gambhir striking form, and Ajinkya Rahane and Shikar Dhawan waiting in the sidelines to grab his spot, the proverbial sword was hovering over his head. With a lukewarm first innings total of 237, Australia were hoping to make early inroads. But Vijay understood fully the gravity of his situation, and that of the team; he went into a shell for a full session on Day Two. In the second session, he peeked out of his cocoon meekly, with sporadic hits to the fence, but it was in the third session when he blossomed, reverting to the prolific shots that he is characteristic of. His footwork became surer; his shots were now sublimely timed; he left the ball with confidence, and attacked with panache.

It was heartening to see Pujara and Vijay craft their partnership. Apart from a deliberate glide by Pujara towards second slip that had the Aussie skipper lunging to his right, it was truly a chanceless partnership. Vijay’s desperation to cement his place reflected in his batting. Full credit to Vijay and Pujara for empathising with each other; Pujara realised Vijay needed the knock more than he did; Vijay kept in mind Pujara’s niggle, while running tight singles. It was a wonderful example of what every partnership should strive for — symbiosis.

Vijay can relax for the next week, knowing that he has secured his spot for the Mohali Test. Pujara has proved his mettle with yet another beauty. However, all four of his centuries have come on sub-continent pitches; he’d be itching to prove his abilities on overseas pitches when India tour South Africa later this year. On an unrelated note, if India don’t bat a second time in the second Test, as Sunil Gavaskar rightly put it, this might be the last we may be seeing Sehwag in the Border-Gavaskar series.

(Rajaram Suresh is a student of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering in IIT Madras. An avid cricket fan, he also explores his interest in journalism, music, books, and cinema, amongst other things)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here