When Cheteshwar Pujara completed his third Test century, he might have made Rahul Dravid, the original Wall, proud. Having taken his slot at number three for India, Pujara has proved he is ready to shoulder that responsibility.
The 25-year-old showcased his talent in a brilliant way with a masterful century on a day when most of the batsmen struggled to stay at the wicket. The wicket had the turn and bounce. And with Monty Panesar posing questions with his left-arm classical spin, Pujara stood tall amidst the ruins. He showed patience, discipline and maturity while gathering runs in his own inimitable style.
If in Ahmedabad, it was test of temperament where he went on to complete his maiden double century in six matches, he announced his arrival as a big-time player with a superlative century at Mumbai. He walked in when Gautam Gambhir was gone in the second ball of the day. But it didn’t rattle Pujara’s confidence. There was swing and bounce. He safely negotiated the early danger by playing both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad with style and elegance. His first four was a sweetly timed extra cover drive off Anderson. His driving was the feature of the innings. Even as other batsmen failed to read the wicket, Pujara made batting look easy with solid technique, particularly against Panesar. He showed excellent technique and skills with the bat to take India out of a tight situation. With supple hands, he deftly handled the pace bowlers and the spinners alike.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who stitched an important unbeaten stand of 97 for the seventh-wicket with the centurion, said if Pujara had not hit a century it would have been a shame.
“The amount of trust he had on his defence was brilliant. He eased the nerves as he batted on. It was a well-paced knock,’’ he said.
According to Ashwin, Pujara has great temperament. “He is in great form. He keeps on piling on the runs. Even in domestic cricket, he doesn’t get small number of runs, he gets big hundreds,’’ said Ashwin.