Indian Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the few quintessential Test batsmen of this era, having the ability to wear down bowlers by occupying the crease for hours. And none other than the Australian team have felt it both down under and sub-continent. In a conversation on Sony Ten Pit Stop, Cheteshwar Pujara recalled his knock of 202 in Ranchi in 2017 and spoke about the Australian players’ emotions on that occasion.
The innings of 202 from 525 deliveries was the longest by an Indian batsman in the longest version in terms of balls faced. In response to tourists’ first innings of 451, spearheaded by Steve Smith’s 451, India reached 603/9. Spinners Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon accounted for 77 and 46 overs each respectively while Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood bowled 83 overs combined in the scorching heat.
Cheteshwar Pujara noted that he could witness the tiredness in the eyes of Australian bowlers when the hosts crossed 500. The Saurashtra batsman handed them credit, steaming in trying to get them all day. And Pujara recalled that it was challenging for them; however, they played with plenty of energy.
“So it must have been very difficult for them but they kept at it with a lot of energy. As a batsman I always love such challenges. Towards the end when we scored more than 500, I could see the tiredness in their eyes. I still have to give them credit. They were running in throughout and trying their best to get us out.”
“But important thing was the partnership with Saha” : Cheteshwar Pujara
The 31-year old credited the partnership of 199 with keeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha as the most decisive one in achieving a massive total. The right-handed batsman admitted that the pitch was lifeless and the Aussie bowlers have always needed pace coming off the pitch.
“But important thing was the partnership with Saha. Without him I don’t think we would have achieved such a big total. At the same time, it was a pitch which didn’t have much for the bowlers. (Australian bowlers) have always needed some pace from the pitch to beat the batsman.”
Peter Handscomb’s 200-ball 72 got Australia through to safety as they settled for a draw. It was one of the most hard-fought series in which Australia performed beyond expectations. The tourists won the first Test in Pune and India claimed the second and fourth Test to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Across four Tests, Steve Smith managed 499 runs, averaging more than 70.