With critics waiting to tear apart the under-performing Indian cricket team before the start of the Australian tour, it was always going to become a series either worth forgetting or worth remembering for the Indian cricket fans. Worth forgetting because the Indian team’s dismal performances in the last one year of Test cricket, and worth remembering because it might just be the last time the immortal Sachin Tendulkar was playing a Test series.
Amid all these uncertainties, one man gave further proof his impeccable credentials — Cheteshwar Pujara, a man who battled through monumental challenges in his life to emerge as the next big hope of Indian cricket. He has already given adequate notice that he is a worthy success of the great Rahul Dravid at the one-drop position.
What has been most gratifying about this exemplary cricketer is not just his composure in piling up runs steadily, but making each and every run caressed off his bat a joy to behold. With the growing hoopla around Twenty20 cricket replacing one-day cricket, here is a cricketer who seems a perfect advertisement for the traditional format of cricket.
Pujara’s run have been amassed on Indian soil. His biggest test thus far will come when he tours South Africa later this year with high expectations and a new-found confidence. Pujara has got out at the pull-shot thrice. It’s something that wouldn’t have missed the South African analysts. One can expect Pujara to be full tested with short balls. But the good student that he has been thus far, one can expect him to provide a fitting reply.
Pujara’s innate ability to stay at the wicket for long hours has been the talking point of the cricketing world. His four centuries to date have totaled to 1800 minutes at the wicket — that’s almost 30 hours in the middle. With Test matches, getting over in four days time, here is a cricketer who is doing just more than scoring big runs in the middle by mentally and physically draining the opposition out. Pujara is born for Test cricket.
As Sunil Gavaskar in this year’s inaugural MAK Pataudi Lecture earlier this month said, Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the sport. And Pujara looks like becoming the poster boy for the longer format, inspiring many of his generation who seem dazzled by the glitz and glitterati of the fast-food (Twenty20) cricket.
Indian cricket is blessed to have unearthed a gem in Cheteshwar Pujara.
(A big fan of MS Dhoni, Rugved Damle has played for his State’s Under-14 and Under-16 teams. He is fascinated by the use of technological innovation in sports and writes on things that are game-changing. Rugved blogs at http://www.helicopter-shot.com/ and can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rugved14)
First Published: March 5, 2013, 11:12 am