Cheteshwar Pujara's father Arvind rates son's 525-ball 202 as his best effort in five-day cricket as odds were stacked heavily against him in Ranchi
India No. 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (right) celebrates after reaching his double hundred as Australia captain Steven Smith applauds on Day Four of the third Test in Ranchi yesterday. Pic/AFP
Arvind Pujara has seen his son Cheteshwar (nick name Chintu) play many marathon innings at different levels since his son took his first steps in the game. Yesterday, the Rajkot-based father of India's star No.3 batsman, watched another, albeit on television.
On the penultimate day of the third Test against Australia at Ranchi, Pujara scored 202 to help India reach an imposing 603 for nine declared before Australia ended the day with 23 for two. Pujara Sr had no hesitation in saying that Cheteshwar's double hundred effort is undoubtedly his best Test innings.
In any case, the 525 balls faced by Pujara is the most by an India batsman in a Test innings. He went past Rahul Dravid who took 495 deliveries to score his Test best 270 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi during the 2003-04 season.
Fighting against odds
"This is his finest knock in Test cricket so far. First, it was a chanceless innings. Secondly, it wasn't an easy track and stroke-making was very difficult because of the pitch's two-paced nature.
"He accumulated runs showing remarkable focus, patience and determination on that wicket — playing 525 balls is not easy. Thirdly, he got his runs despite Australia resorting to negative bowling tactics. Fourthly, he was standing firm even when India were losing wickets at regular intervals till Wriddhiman Saha stayed on and scored a century.
"Last but not the least, remember, India batted second here and there is added pressure when you know that you have to get close to the opposition's score or overtake them. Cheteshwar showed remarkable character to absorb all this pressure and play such an important innings for his team," Arvind told mid-day.
There is enough to suggest that Pujara is coolest among all the batsmen in the India line-up. "When it comes to absorbing pressure, Chintu is so much like his mother. When she was alive, she would take care of each and every problem in the house without even letting anybody get a whiff about it. I am not like that. I get flustered easily," said Arvind.
It was Cheteshwar's mother Reenaben who wanted to see her son play for the country someday.
Sadly, she could never see her son play even Ranji Trophy for Saurashtra as she lost her battle with cancer before Cheteshwar made his first-class debut against Vidarbha in December 2005. After his marathon innings, the world is talking about his discipline, determination and focus today, the very values that were instilled in him by his mother when he was a kid.
Four Pujara is the fourth batsman after England's Wally Hammond (thrice), Len Hutton and Ken Barrington to face 500 or more balls vs Australia
India vs Australia 3rd Test, Day 5: Star Sports 1, 3, HD 1 & HD 3, 09:30