Re-living five best Test innings of Pujara

New Delhi: India’s Cheteshwar Pujara has enjoyed a stellar 13-year career with India and is all set to play his 100th Test in Delhi on Friday. As the star approaches this landmark, relive five of his best efforts.
206* & 41* vs England, First Test, Ahmedabad, 15-19 November 2012: Pujara’s first double-hundred came in his sixth Test match. India were looking to get back at England after an ignominious whitewash away from home in the 2011 Pataudi Trophy and needed the perfect start at Ahmedabad.
Pujara’s 206* laden with 21 fours and scored in about eight and a half hours, gave India that start. It helped them post a commanding total of 521/8, while keeping the tourists out in the field for two days. England were duly knocked out in the first innings by India’s spinners, and forced to follow on.
While England showed some fight in their second turn, they couldn’t set a challenging total for India. The home side went on to win the game by nine wickets. Pujara contributed with a 41* in the second innings.
145* vs Sri Lanka, Colombo, Third Test, 28 August – 1 September 2015: Making a comeback into the Test team, Pujara was given the tough task of opening the batting in the series decider. The competitive Colombo wicket had something for both pacers and spinners, and showed its tricks early on.
Pujara held his own even as India’s top and middle-order fell cheaply to some good Sri Lanka bowling. Taking support from the tail, Pujara helped his side reach a strong total of 312. The Saurashtra batter hit 14 fours in his innings.
Pujara remained unbeaten till the end and became only the fourth India batter to carry the bat after Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid. Led by Ishant Sharma (5/54), the tourists managed to gain a strong lead. They reinforced the advantage with a sturdy effort in the third innings, setting Sri Lanka a target of 386.
Despite a brilliant hundred from Angelo Mathews (110), India won the game by 117 runs.
132* vs England, Southampton, Fourth Test, 30 August – 2 September 2018
Though trailing 2-1 in the series, India took confidence from their win in the third Test at Nottingham. After England elected to bat at Southampton, India pacers took the charge, sharing eight wickets between them to bowl the hosts for 246.
During India’s innings, the home side made the best use of familiar conditions, but Pujara batted like a disciplined monk. He hit 16 boundaries during his 257-ball stay. The game didn’t go as well for other India batters, and the side slid from 181-4 to 195-8 against Moeen Ali (5/63).
Still Pujara’s unbeaten ton helped India into the lead. He partnered with Ishant and Jasprit Bumrah to get India to 273. The tourists, however, weren’t able to hold onto this slender advantage, as England managed to set India a tricky target. Moeen returned to torment India with 4-71 and England won the game by 60 runs.
India’s next-best score in the game after Pujara was Kohli’s 58. This is Pujara’s only hundred in England to date.
‘His concentration and focus are unreal’ – Rizwan full of praise for Pujara 123 & 71 vs Australia, Adelaide, First Test, 6-10 December 2018 India were coming off successive failures away from home in the form of series losses to South Africa and England. While their bowling had been competitive, batting failures had allowed home sides to take the upper hand.
Now they were in Australia, a place where India had never won a Test series. If the team had to do well, the batting order had to make a statement. Pujara did just the same, with a classy 123 against one of the toughest bowling line-ups in the world.
He scored almost half of his side’s total (250) on a lively Adelaide deck and ensured that India’s bowler had something to bowl at. The bowlers responded by giving their side a lead of 15 runs. Pujara returned to score a solid 71 to lead his side to 307. He was India’s highest run-scorer in both innings.
Australia fought in the fourth innings, but fell 31 short of a target of 323 runs. Pujara would go on to be India’s highest run-getter (521 runs) in their historic first-ever series win Down Under.
The middle-order batter’s brilliant show helped him win the Player of the Series award for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2018/19.
50 & 77 vs Australia, Sydney, Third Test, 7-11 January 2021 and 25 & 56 vs Australia, Brisbane, Fourth Test, 15-19 January 2021: After being shot out for 36 en route an embarrassing defeat at Adelaide, India struck back at Melbourne to equal the series 1-1. However, the team, hit by injuries from all ends, needed a miracle to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against a dominant Australia.
Pujara was amongst those who stood up and played two masterful day-five knocks to help India keep the trophy. The first came at Sydney where his 77 from 205 balls helped the tourists secure a draw. He was the ice to Rishabh Pant’s fire as their stand of 148 runs helped India achieve parity in the game. His five-hour stay was crucial in saving the Test.
The second was his 56 from 211 at Brisbane. Pujara copped blow after blow during his courageous knock on a bouncy wicket, taking hits across the body from head, chest, thighs to arms. He shared a 114-run third-wicket stand with the sublime Shubman Gill (91) and a 61-run fifth-wicket stand with Pant (89*) to help India get closer to a win.
India beat Australia by three wickets to secure a famous series win Down Under.

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