With an uncharacteristic disdainful pull off Craig Overton, which raced away to the fence for a boundary, Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his first half-century of the series at Headingley during India‘s second innings.
In fact, this fifty ends his 12-innings rut which had started against England in India earlier in the year. His previous 50-plus score came in the first innings of the first Test against England in Chennai; since then his scores read: 15, 21, 7, 0, 17, 8, 15, 4, 12*, 9, 45, and 1 in the first innings in Leeds.
Cheteshwar Pujara was indeed fortunate to have had a quick start to his innings on Friday as James Anderson and Overton were in a generous mood – they fed him balls on his pads which the batsman duly put away on the left side. Three boundaries at the start of his knock, something which he had been denied in this series – barring the second innings at Trent Bridge – and Pujara’s meter was up and running.
The 33-year-old hadn’t looked more comfortable in any of his stays so far than he did on Friday. It was also helped by the high level of composure at the other end in the form of Rohit Sharma, who also notched up his fifty.
With runs in the bank, English pacers bowled full, in search of swing. But there wasn’t as much of it available as it had been on Day 1. Barring one bulging cover drive, one cut shot, rest of his boundaries till he reached if fifty were on the on-side, including the one with which he brought up his landmark. Anything on the pads was put away on the leg side by India’s number 3; more than half of his runs had come in that half of the ground.
After reaching the landmark, Cheteshwar Pujara ramped Ollie Robinson over the slips, before picking up a couple of more leg-side boundaries off Anderson. It remains to be seen if he could convert this into a three-figure score – should he be able to do it, it would be his first Test ton since January 2019.
India is still miles behind in the game – more so, after Pujara lost Rohit Sharma at the other end at the start of the third session. Twitter applauded the right-hander for a staunch return to form.
Twitter Applauds As Cheteshwar Pujara Reaches A Half-Century At Headingley After 12 Innings
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) August 27, 2021
Che Pujara reaches his half-century 👏
It's his first fifty in his last 13 Test innings! #ENGvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) August 27, 2021
Pulls it away to get to 50 🤩
Classic knock 😍 from the 'new-look Pujara' today 👌
— SonyLIV (@SonyLIV) August 27, 2021
Fifty for Pujara, 50* from 91 balls, it has been a different Pujara in this innings and really pleasing to see it. Well played, Pujara.
— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) August 27, 2021
The day is here when England will plead for mercy but Pujara Power will not let them breathe easy. #ENGvIND
— Silly Point (@FarziCricketer) August 27, 2021
Champions can't be kept quiet for long.
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) August 27, 2021
91 balls – Cheteshwar Pujara's 14th fastest 50 in Tests.
His third-fastest vs Eng, but his fastest in England.
His second-fastest in 2021 after the 64-ball fifty in SCG
His career fastest is 54 balls vs Aus (Delhi) 2013, during his 82* in 92 balls!#ENGvIND #EngvsInd#IndvEng
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) August 27, 2021
Before today, most boundaries Pujara had ever hit against Jimmy Anderson in a Test innings was four – during his 206* at Ahmedabad in 2012.
— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) August 27, 2021
This right here is epic mental strength from Pujara. Under intense pressure and pretty much playing for his career, has come up with this. Take a bow sir. Don’t want to jinx, but he looks in the zone. #ENGvIND
— Srinath (@srinathb) August 27, 2021