Cheteshwar Pujara scripts a memorable comeback with an unbeaten ton
Cheteshwar Pujara’s knock in the third test between India and Sri Lanka proved once again cricket is a great leveler. The supremely talented right hander who was drafted into the squad to replace regular opener Murali Vijay played a rescuing act to bail out the team after the top and middle order collapsed in front of some disciplined bowling by the Lankans.
The tourists, who resumed at 50-2 after a rain-curtailed opening day, moved to 292-8 by stumps on the second day at the Sinhalese Sports Club with Pujara holding fort on a watchful 135 not out.
Pujara, who had been dropped for India’s last four Tests across Australia, Bangladesh and the ongoing series, may not have played this match too if both regular openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan had been fit.
The 27-year-old grabbed the chance to notch up his seventh Test century that has so far included 13 boundaries.
Fast bowler Prasad bowled superbly to take four wickets in the innings, including two off successive balls on either side of the lunch break that reduced India to 119-5. Number nine batsman Amit Mishra came to India’s rescue with a defiant 59 during an eighth wicket stand of 104 with Pujara which boosted the total.
“This is definitely one of the toughest wickets I have played on,” said Pujara. “It’s a challenge to bat on it because you have to keep defending to survive and wait for the loose ball.”
Fans and former cricketers have often criticised the move of dropping Pujara. The Saurashtra batsman was ignored as the team management provided more chances to Rohit Sharma despite him failing. Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar had described Pujara as ‘one-gear’ batsman while backing Rohit’s selection in first 2 Tests in Sri Lanka. As soon as Pujara hit a ton, there were many including former skipper Anil Kumble, who expressed their happiness on social media. Cheteshwar Pujara will now resume the innings on day 3 with a score of 135 and alongwith Ishant Sharma their target would be to take the team total past the 300 run mark.