Ahmedabad: Nov 16, 2012
Cheteshwar Pujara scored a masterclass first double century and second hundred-plus total in only his ninth Test innings today in the first Test at Ahmedabad against England. Pujara punished England’s hapless attack, including off-spinner Graeme Swann who was involved in all six wickets India lost till Tea, after the visitors started the second session brightly picking up the wickets of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. His knock included 21 hits to the fence at a strike-rate of over 50.
Pujara’s innings was a treat to watch for the old-school Test purists as he utilised every shot in the book. The 24-year-old Saurashtra lad used the depth of the crease to perfection as he punched deliveries off the backfoot through the covers and whipped the other down mid-wicket. He was rock-solid as ever with the spinners, sweeping and driving them down the ground, and thoroughly living up to his billing of the “New Wall”, as the original watched from the commentary box.
Resuming his innings on 98 this morning, Pujara was watchful at first as England tried to crank up the pressure on him by bowling Swann with three close-in fielders. The pressure and chatter was on right from the word go. After playing out one Swann over for a maiden, Pujara drove him wide of mid-on on the first ball of his next to reach a well-deserved century.
Pujara had, before the Tests began, already given the Englishmen a sneak-peak of what’s to come after scoring 87 for Mumbai A in the tour game. After years of prolific run-scoring at the domestic level, including a career best of 302 not out, Pujara got an opportunity to showcase his talent internationally against Australia at Bangalore in 2010. Replacing Rahul Dravid at one-down in the Test squad, Pujara scored a brilliant 72 in a fourth-innings run-chase. He then scored a composed century against New Zealand in Hyderabad this August, and with this innings, looks set to carry forward the legacy of the great Dravid.