The Australian Cricket Team had prepared themselves for the threat that Indian skipper Virat Kohli posed with the batt during India’s 2018 tour Down Under but Cheteshwar Pujara came out of the syllabus, proving to be a major thorn in the home sides’ flesh two summers ago.
Pujara batted and batted and batted, ground the famed Australian pace-attack of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins in the dust to lay the cornerstone for eventual series triumph for the Men in Blue.
The Indian No.3 faced more than 1200 ball for his 521 runs across four Test matches with the help of three hundred and was eventually adjudged the ‘Player of the Series’.
Exactly two winters later, Cheteshwar Pujara is back in Australia with the impending task of once again spearheading the Indian batting-unit, especially in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli, who is set to miss the last three Tests of the series due to paternity leave.
But according to the legendary Australian pacer Glenn McGrath, the task will be arduous for Pujara this time around to emulate his feats of two seasons ago. McGrath reckoned that the major reason behind Cheteshwar Pujara’s success in 2018-19 was his ability to occupy the crease for long periods of time, something the former pacer feels will be tough for the Saurashtra batsman this time around, considering the fact that he is coming after a long layoff.
Pujara wasn’t a part of the recently concluded IPL and his last competitive outing came way back in early March in the Ranji Trophy post which cricket came to a halt due to Covid-enforced lockdown.
“The thing he did so well last time was that he occupied the crease. He spent time in the middle just batting. He is a kind of batsman who doesn’t feel pressure when not scoring runs. That’s unique in the modern era where there are batsmen who would want to score runs after one maiden over. Pujara doesn’t have that mindset. That helped him last time, allowed him to get a lot of time and just compile runs,” McGrath told Hindustan Times.
“The fact that he hasn’t spent time in the middle, hasn’t had lot of long batting time, is going to have a big impact. He will probably have to work harder this series than the last one as he hasn’t played any cricket.” he added.