Cheteshwar Pujara
source: MPL

The strange thing about being someone’s nemesis is that, you will get the hate and respect in equal measure. ‘Hate’ develops when you never seem to get the better of your nemesis and ‘Respect’ comes from the fact that how good your nemesis can be. 

Cheteshwar Pujara is one such nemesis of Australia, who time and time again, gets the better of their famed bowling line up. 

Australia, who are in India for the Border Gavaskar trophy haven’t won a series in India since 2004 will no doubt will be vary of India’s stroke makers like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shubhman Gill but the man there bowlers know will be a thorn in there flesh would be the most dependable – Cheteshwar Pujara.

Pujara has always been a catalyst around whom the Indian batting has revolved, especially in the Border Gavaskar Trophy, be it in India or in Australia. 

Even if we keep the dodgedness and calmness of Pujara aside for a while, the numbers present a clear picture as well. Between 2010 upto this point, Australia’s nemesis i.e Cheteshwar Pujara has played 20 Tests and batted in 37 innings against the Aussies.

In those 37 innings, Pujara has scored 1893 runs at an average of 54.03. With 5 centuries and 10 half centuries in those 37 innings makes it pretty evident that Pujara loves to score big and consistently when it comes to playing against the Aussies. 

With holding up one end coming naturally to Pujara, it makes easier for the stroke makers at other end to up the anti with them having this belief in Pujara’s resilience of not throwing his wicket away. 

No body can forget the heroics of Cheteshwar Pujara in 2018-19 Border Gavaskar trophy in Australia. Pujara played a massive part in what was India’s 1st ever Test series victory on Australian soil, having scored a mammoth 521 runs at an average of 74.72 including 3 centuries and was rightly named the man of the series.

Pujara batted for a record 1258 deliveries in the four-match Test series which is the most by an Indian batsmen in a series down under. In the process, India’s famous #3 overtook its legendary #3, i.e., Rahul Dravid given the Wall’s previous record of facing 1203 deliveries in the 2003-04 series in Australia. 

Pujara scored hundreds in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to script India’s victory in that series. 

Although, in the subsequent border Gavaskar series of 2020-21 which happened in Australia, Pujara did not produce big scores, he did chipped in a number of defiant knocks, taking blows on the body to keep the Australian bowlers at bay. Especially, Cheteshwar Pujara’s knock in Sydney will be remembered for a long time to come where he along with Hanuma Vihari took the steam out of the Aussies bowlers, who tried every trick in the book but to no avail. His 286 minutes match saving innings of 77 runs will be part of folklore. 

The 35 year old was the unsung hero in India’s 2-1 series triumph against Tim Paine and company. 

A veteran of 98 Test matches so far, Pujara has so far scored 7014 runs at an impressive average of 44.39, with 19 hundreds and 34 half centuries. 

The 2nd Test match of the forthcoming Border Gavaskar trophy 2023 in Delhi would be Pujara’s 100 Test match. I am not an advocate of betting, but will not mind betting on Pujara carrying on for at least 2 more years. 

Over the years, life on the pitch hasn’t been a bed of roses for Cheteshwar Pujara who had to contend with a lot of criticism during his decade long illustrious career. Pujara’s strike rate being a bone of contention many a times. People have questioned his lack of intent in scoring runs. What people forget is, Pujara’s innings can save a lost cause or win a game, something the opposition is always vary of. 

People need to realize that to stay on the wicket when the going is tough is also an intent full innings. Pujara is a gold plated assurance who will always put a price tag on his wicket. 

The Border Gavaskar series starts on the February 9. Of the many many battles within the battles and of the many focal points, one which will be seen with utmost interest – Will, Pujara turns out to be the Achilles heel for the Australian bowlers once gain or Do the Aussies have something up there arsenal to get the better of Wall 2.0 . The mouth watering series will be enthralling to watch.

One cannot wait.


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