India’s Cheteshwar Puajara stands with the very best when it comes to Test cricket. Considered by many as one of the pillars of his team in the longest format, the gritty, old-school batsman has built his game around patience, defence and a perfect understanding of the situation; much like the former Indian captain, Rahul Dravid.
Having made his Test debut against Australia in 2010, Pujara has accumulated 5840 runs at an average of 48.66 in 128 innings, scoring 18 tons and 25 half-centuries over the years. That said, we take a look at five of his best knocks in the longest format of the game.
202 vs Australia - Ranchi (2017)
India made a breathtaking comeback in the second Test after losing the first of the four-match series against Australia in 2017. And thus, the third Test eventually became a perfect setup for the host to stamp their authority.
Batting first, the Aussies put a mammoth 451 runs on board, riding on the back of Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell’s tons. In response, India made a decent start, and as soon as KL Rahul departed, Pujara began his show.
Such was his superiority during the innings that he played the longest Test innings by an Indian (525 balls), scoring 202 to help India post 603/9d.
The match was eventually drawn.
145* vs Sri Lanka - Colombo (2015)
This perhaps remains one of the most important knocks of Pujara’s Test career. After a poor showing against New Zealand, England, and Australia, Pujara was eventually dropped for four Test matches in 2015.
When India toured Sri Lanka later in the year, although he was a part of the squad, he failed to get into the started XI. By the third and the final Test of the series, Murali Vijay’s injury gave him a chance of reviving his career.
Opening the innings alongside Ajinkya Rahane, Pujara went on to play an unbeaten knock of 145, on the back of which India posted 312. He was named the Man of the Match as India registered their first Test series win in Sri Lanka in 22 years.
153 vs South Africa - Johannesburg (2013)
After a neck-to-neck battle in the first innings, India needed something special to ride on to their 36-run lead against South Africa at their own turf in 2013.
Batting alongside Virat Kohli, who had scored a century early in the first innings, Pujara went on to score 153 in 270 balls, including 21 boundaries, to guide India to 421. What made this particular knock special is the fact that he batted against a bowling line-up comprising of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis, and Imran Tahir.
On the back of his exploits, India managed to draw the game.
92 vs Australia - Bengaluru (2017)
The score might not look like it made a lot of difference from the outside, but given India’s situation in the second Test after facing a thumping defeat in the first in 2017, it remains one of Pujara’s brilliant knocks of all time.
Australia piled on an 87-run lead after their first innings, and India needed a big partnership to get something out of the game. Out came Pujara, and alongside Ajinkya Rahane, he took India out of their doldrums.
Batting throughout the day, the Gujarat lad scored 92 off 221 deliveries, fending off everything the Australian bowling attack had in store. His efforts took India to 274, and an eventual bowling brilliance from Ravichandran Ashwin gave India a much-needed 75-run victory.
132* vs England - Southampton (2018)
Batting first in the fourth Test of India’s tour of Ireland and England, the hosts were restricted to 246, and in turn, India made a brilliant start, losing just two wickets for 142 runs, with Pujara and Kohli sticking a 92-run partnership.
England, however, bounced back and reduced India to 195 for eight in no time. Although India kept on losing wickets, Cheteshwar Pujara made sure that hope was not lost. The marathon man combined with the tail-end and took India from 195/8 to 273. India went on to lose the game, but Pujara's showcase remains equally brilliant outside Asia.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain