Cheteshwar Pujara © Getty Images
Cheteshwar Pujara © Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara scored 133 not out for Yorkshire against Hampshire in his final match of the County Championship 2015. In doing so, Pujara finally managed to build on the starts he had been getting in his last few games. Shiamak Unwalla feels Pujara’s form for Yorkshire bodes well for India in their upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

Cheteshwar Pujara had long been earmarked as one of India’s brightest Test prospects. A First-Class average of over 56, three triple-hundreds, and the reputation of being a possible like-for-like replacement for Rahul Dravid at No. 3 made Pujara a certainty in India’s Test line-up.

He had a tremendous start to his Test career as well, and looked like he would be India’s next Test batting superstar. His early stats made him stand out as a far more reliable batsman than even Virat Kohli in the longest format. In fact, after 11 Tests his average read a whopping 68 — after he became the second-fastest to a thousand Test runs.

However, ever since his success in South Africa in 2013-14, Pujara has done very little of note. He managed to get a few starts in England and Australia, but by and large was a failure in the last few games he played for India.

Overseas failures have plagued Pujara. Given that his home average is a lofty 75, the corresponding overseas number reads an abysmal 29. He was even dropped for the final Test India played in Australia earlier this year — and perhaps justifiably so, for his last ten Tests had fetched him 483 runs at a mere 24.

Since then Pujara has worked hard on his game. He played only four games for Yorkshire, but showed signs of improvement in every outing. He started with a duck against Worcestershire before coming back with 57 against Nottinghamshire. He followed up with 23 and 33 against Warwickshire before capping off his season with a terrific unbeaten 133 off 182 balls against a Hampshire attack comprising Fidel Edwards and Andre Adams among others.

With this century, Pujara has finally broken a rut that he had got himself into. He is far too good a player to keep missing out; this century will more than boost his confidence, more so because it has come in a country where he averaged 22 from 5 Tests last year.

Against Bangladesh, Pujara will have the ideal opportunity to put his bad form behind him. The Bangladeshi spin attack is a potent one, and Pujara’s recent shortcomings against spin will play on his mind. If he can safely negotiate Taijul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan and the other plethora of spinners, Pujara will be well on the way to his best. This could well be the start of yet another productive period for The Wall 2.0!

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)