Test specialist as he’s called Cheteshwar Pujara arrived at the crease on the third delivery of Day 1, at Adelaide (First Test).
Not quite the start that India would’ve liked but hey, early days of the Test, right?
Frankly, there wasn’t much that Prithvi Shaw was able to do, having left the scorers with little work to do, as he gave Mitchell Starc wicket # 243 seeing his timber disturbed all thanks to an inside edge.
Though, by the time India’s #3 departed, a scorecard that looked harrowing at one stage- naught for one, soon after which it’d read thirty-two for two- eventually read hundred.
But it was Cheteshwar Pujara that contributed forty-one of those painfully-collected runs.
Important that those may have been, they came against an Australian attack that seemed in an oppressive and no-non sense mood, from the first over itself.
Starc was angling it well, as always. Hazlewood was coming good from both ends, whilst the award for bowling a peach of a delivery belonged to Pat Cummins.
There’s little doubt that Cheteshwar Pujara may not have been perturbed looking at the fashion of India’s opening batsman was sent back.
The way Cummins seemingly ‘another-one-of-those’ deliveries that pitched marginally outside the line of off came in and took Mayank Agarwal’s stumps with it would have given any premier Test batsman room for introspection.
“Can this happen to me soon!”
“If so, how do I fend off a red-hot Aussie pacer… this is when we aren’t batting on flat decks of the sub-continent but Down Under!?
And if none of the above hovered around in the mind of a technically correct batsman, then surely Cheteshwar Pujara may have thought a lot about just one simple thing.
It’s the way in which he plays, the meaning of batting, and that too, in a format in which his skills find the greatest attention.
Don’t we just love it when a mild-mannered hero remains subdued?
Chances are, when Cheteshwar Pujara calls it a day- and please don’t heckle me for he’s only 32 and extremely fit- no one will probably think of dedicating a biopic on him.
Surely, a documentary would be nice-no?
No traffic station in Rajkot will come to a standstill for 24 hours given one of the finest sons, arguably, the most popular from the land of silk work and countless gold jewelry articles would have called it a day.
What would happen is that, the day Pujara- a grafter, a polished craftsman who likes to dig in- would remind us all of the cushion of comfort he provided the team to which he batted with unadulterated focus.
Probably fair to say, of just the kinds we were fortunate to see on the opening day of Adelaide’s mayhem-making morning where it was, quite frankly, Cheteshwar Pujara vs Australia not Indian team, as a collective, versus the Aussies.
And that’s why, even at the outset, the right-hander’s 41 runs seem pretty benign or let’s say, harmless, the conditions in which they came make them anything but.
Honestly, Pujara might not even have gotten beyond a fifty.
But the time period for which he hung in there, negotiated with the new pink ball, formed a partnership with Agarwal (32) and in the process, ate up (as his critics would say) 160 deliveries, India survived.
And lest it is forgotten, Day 1 was over, there are four more days remaining, a lot of cricket still left to be played, a lot of song and drama (hopefully, no ugly banter, knowing the passion of two fantastic cricketing powers) yet to happen.
Where the scorecard reads at the moment- it is 233 for 6, with Virat Kohli playing a very vital fifty, contributing seventy-four of his team’s not so bright or balmy Adelaide outing.
But let’s not forget, since we so often do where it comes to India’s quite batsman known for his triple tons for Saurashtra, that it may have been worse had Cheteshwar Pujara not been there.
What do you all reckon?