There were concerns about the lack of match practice for Cheteshwar Pujara going into the crucial Australia Test series. The Rajkot lad did not play any competitive cricket for over 40 days before facing Michael Clarke’s attack.
However, the 25-year-old showed no signs of being out of touch with a scintillating double century — his second in 11 Test matches.
Pujara slammed 204, plundering 30 fours and a six. The classical drives and cuts during his 415-minute stay at the crease were a delight for the Hyderabad crowd. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal has been a happy hunting ground for the Saurashtra youngster. Last year, he tormented the visiting New Zealanders for his 159.
The last two months have been quite eventful for Pujara. He earned a maiden ODI call-up for the England series, but was restricted to the bench in the five-match contest. This effectively ruled him out from participating in the Ranji Trophy semi-final and final.
Out of action
His marriage, which was lined-up following the England series, forced him to skip the Irani Cup and the two warm-up games against Australia. This left Pujara out of action for 41 days since the Ranji quarter-final against Karnataka in January.
Pujara’s Saurashtra teammate Sitanshu Kotak revealed that the prolific batsman did not let marriage affect his practice sessions. “I thought he would take a break for a few days for his marriage. But I was surprised when he said he was training on the eve of his wedding. He is very focused. And after his marriage, he left for the India camp in Bangalore,” veteran Kotak told MiD DAY yesterday.
Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra said Pujara’s mind is always on the game. “It is tough to distract him. He is always thinking about the game and his batting. For any other player, a break would have affected his momentum and confidence. But Pujara has a special quality. Before the New Zealand series last year, he requested me to include him in the team for a Buchi Babu match (against Assam). He is very committed. He always wants to play and loves batting for long hours,” said Mitra.