Pat Cummins was one of the best performers during Australia vs India 2020-21 Test series down under, paid rich tribute to Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara. The Australian vice-captain revealed that once Virat Kohli went back home, the Australians targeted Cheteshwar Pujara for the remaining games to put India under pressure.
Virat Kohli had played the white-ball series and was available only for the first Test in Adelaide, which India lost after being bowled out for 36-their lowest Test total in an innings. Kohli had been granted paternal leave before the series had begun and he later welcomed a daughter with his wife Anushka Sharma.
On the other hand, Cheteshwar Pujara had been a thorn in Australia’s throat, as he had scored over 500 runs in the 2018-19 series with three centuries, helping India beat Australia in Australia in a Test series for the very first time. Even though he had not repeated the same performances in the 2020-21 Test series, Pujara still was able to blunt the Australian bowling attack, while others batted around him.
Cheteshwar Pujara turned out to be the deciding factor with his rock solid performances: Pat Cummins
Cummins said Pujara turned out to be the deciding factor with his rock-solid performances with the bat. He made 271 runs in 4 Tests at an average of 33.87 with 3 half-centuries to his name.
“My initial thought was that he (Pujara) was the brick wall, so once we opened up his end, I thought that still made all three results in the game possible, winning, losing or a draw. But it was satisfying too: before the series, once we knew Virat (Kohli) was going to miss the last three Tests, Pujara was the big wicket for me. He was the deciding factor in the series a couple of years earlier – he was their rock in middle order – and I felt a big part of the series battle would be played out against him,” Cummins said in an interview to ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly.
Pujara was the brick that the Australian bowlers tried to dislodge, given that he scored his two of the slowest fifties ever in Test cricket. He also batted for 928 balls across the four-Test matches and his slowest half-century came off 196 balls.
“After the first two games, I thought he (Pujara) might have had to adapt to try to take the game on a little bit more and put pressure back on the bowlers. But if anything, he went the other way. He went, ‘No, I know my game so well, I’m going to just bat and bat and scoring will take care of itself’ – whether it’s down the other end or later in his innings…a lot of the time he was there just to face out the tough spells, bat and bat and bat…,” Cummins added.
Cheteshwar Pujara is a difficult customer to bowl to: Pat Cummins
Cheteshwar Pujara had taken body blows consecutively during the hard-fought draw in the Sydney Test match and did the same in Brisbane as well. Lauding his ability to blunt bowling attacks by sheer determination, Cummins called Pujara a difficult customer to deal with.
“With someone who doesn’t look to take the game on, you feel like you can experiment a little bit more, maybe be a little more aggressive in bowling a touch fuller, try to swing the ball, play around with your crease position. It’s incredibly rare that someone gets hit on his body and wears so many bruises without trying something…he really stuck to his processes,” Cummins said.