Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma are men of contrasts. While the Saurashtra star is quiet and shy, Mumbaikar Rohit is outspoken. And both scored centuries on Day Two of the second Test against the West Indies at the Wankhede here in contrasting style.
While Pujara quietly went about collecting his 113 runs, assisted by Sachin Tendulkar earlier on, Rohit almost played a blitzkrieg (111 not out) and that too with tailenders for company towards close of play. Resuming on 157-2, Pujara was happy to play second fiddle as Tendulkar became the cynosure of all eyes.
Even after the master blaster departed for 74, Pujara was his cool and calculating self. Virat Kohli joined him at the crease and scored a breezy 57 before edging Shane Shillingford to Darren Sammy at first slip almost against the run of play. Pujara though remained unfazed and was looking solid before he handed a caught and bowled chance to Shillingford. Next man in, Rohit had MS Dhoni for company but the Indian skipper didn’t last long (4) and was followed back into the pavilion by R Ashwin (30), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0) and Pragyan Ojha (11), leaving only Mohammed Shami for company.
Rohit though is in such impeccable form — he scored a classy 177 in the first Test at Eden Gardens recently — that he could even middle a golf ball with equal regularity. He was on 46 when Shami joined him. He slammed 11 fours and three sixes for 111 — helped en route by good fortune. On 85, and probably tired of playing out five balls of every over and taking a single off the sixth to ensure he kept the strike away from Shami, Rohit holed out to Shillingford.
But the off-spinner overstepped and Rohit’s ton was suddenly on again. He needed no second opportunity and alongwith a fighting 11 by Shami helped the hosts amass 495, a lead of a whopping 313 runs. At close of play, the Windies were embarrassingly placed at 43-3 with Kieran Powell (9), Tino Best (9) and Darren Bravo (11) back in the pavilion.
Pujara credits SRT
Pujara later gave credit to Tendulkar for sorting out some of his batting woes in the nets. “Sachin and me had a conversation in the nets before the match and I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with the outswingers going through me. He said my shoulder was opening too much and that I should be more side-on and possibly take a bigger stride.
“Yesterday too, I was finding it very difficult to focus due to all the noise from the crowd, but Sachin told me to stay focussed. And right enough, things eased off later on.” He hailed Rohit’s effort too, even comparing him to the stylish VVS Laxman. “Rohit played really well. It was a lot like the way Laxman batted with the tailenders,” he added.
Shillingford meanwhile admitted he was trying too hard to dismiss Rohit but failed. “I knew he was coming at me so I put in that extra bit of effort into my bowling and that probably led to the overstepping,” he said. Tendulkar’s gone but India’s next generation is delivering.