England look clueless against Cheteshwar Pujara, who has now faced 719 balls and batted for more than 15 hours in this series, but is yet to be dismissed.
Pujara played a classic 114-run knock on a tough Wankhede wicket that had quite good bounce to steady India’s ship after a flurry of wickets on Day One of the second Test yesterday.
He has scored 361 runs in the series so far. While Pujara’s father Arvind wants his son to continue his habit of scoring tons, Lalchand Rajput, coach of the India ‘A’ team of which Pujara was captain during West Indies tour in June, said the right-hander values every opportunity. The hosts, who elected to bat after wining the toss, lost Gautam Gambhir (4) early before Virender Sehwag, playing his 100th Test, alongwith Pujara provided some stability. Sehwag looked edgy and soon perished for 30.
Sachin Tendulkar (8), Virat Kohli (19), Yuvraj Singh (0) and skipper MS Dhoni (29) departed without showing much resistance. Pujara found an able partner in offie Ravichandran Ashwin, who is batting on 60 as India scored 266 for six at stumps.
For England, left-arm spinner Monty Panesar was most impressive, picking up 4 for 91, while Graeme Swann, star of the first Test, claiming 1 for 59. Pujara’s knock was as good as a replay of his fabulous unbeaten 206 in the first Test at Motera last week. He batted with patience and kept his concentration intact. His desire and hunger to score runs at no point seemed to diminish.
Pujara made a rare mistake when on 60, edging Panesar to slips, but Anderson failed to capitalise on the only opportunity to dismiss him. Pujara was clearly the flavour of Wankhede yesterday and the chants ‘Pu-ja-ra, Pu-ja-ra’ only grew louder as he approached the magical three-figure mark.
Not one to be over-cautious when approaching a ton, Pujara pulled James Anderson’s second delivery for four when on 99. It looked as if Mumbaikars had got their dose of entertainment for the day as many were seen leaving the ground after Pujara’s hundred. Pujara Sr told MiD DAY: “It is a good habit that he is developing (of scoring centuries). I want him to continue with this habit. It is not just for my son, but also for Team India.”
Rajput stressed on Pujara’s mindset.
“He knows that there is no second chance for a batsman. You can get out to any ball. A bowler can comeback after a bad delivery, but it’s not the case with a batsman. And Pujara understands this much better than everyone else at the moment. “Pujara appetite is only getting better and better which is great news for Team India.”
Ashwin waxed eloquent too: “Pujara played brilliantly. He trusted his defence and it was brilliant. It was a very well paced knock. It would have been a shame had he not got the hundred.
“He has got great temperament and is in great form. He somehow keeps on piling runs. Even in domestic cricket, he doesn’t get small number of runs — he gets big hundreds.”
Instances of most Test runs without being dismissed (since 2000):
Sachin Tendulkar: 495 runs in three innings – 241* & 60*
vs Aus at Sydney and 194* vs Pak at Multan in 2003-04.
Brian Lara: 400 runs in one innings – 400* against England at St John’s in 2003-04.
Jacques Kallis: 388 runs in three innings – 157* &
42* at Harare and 189* at Bulawayo, both against Zimbabwe in 2001-02.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 361 runs in three innings – 206* & 41* at Ahmedabad and 114* at Mumbai, both against
England in 2012.
Michael Clarke: 329 runs in one innings – 329* against
India at Sydney, 2011-12.