Rishabh Pant is right: Cheteshwar Pujara is a one-of-a-kind player
In the 30th over of the Australian innings, with Khawaja having consumed almost a hundred balls for 26 runs, Rishabh Pant was heard shouting: “Everyone here isn’t Pujara, Ash.” He could not be more right about this.
Pujara is one of that rare breed of modern day batsman who plays the old school classical Test cricket. He is not the one for flashy shots, though he is capable of hitting them hard and far, as he showed when he was in the nineties with just a couple of wickets left in the Indian first innings.
With every passing minute in the Adelaide Test, the value of Pujara’s innings is increasing a notch. Australia’s tail may still wag and they can drag the eventual Australian score to somewhere close to, or even a bit above that of India. But on the face of it, the match is going to be decided on the basis of which team plays better in the second innings.
Indian batsmen, especially the top order, barring Pujara, have got the opportunity to redeem itself and set Australia a target that Indian bowlers can defend. Ashwin and the Indian pacers have been brilliant in the first innings and with the pitch set to deteriorate further, any target above 250 will be extremely difficult to chase.
At this stage of the match, India is definitely the slight favourite, primarily because of Pujara’s innings where he applied himself admirably to the task of holding his fort among the ruins all around him.
In a team full of stroke-makers, Pujara stands out for his solidity and application. He is a player made for Test cricket in the age of T20.
Even when he goes through a lean patch, he needs to be persisted with. Even though Pant’s chirping was more for Khawaja, one hopes the Indian Captain Virat Kohli too pays heed and does not commit the blunder of dropping Pujara as he did at Birmingham, if he happens to go through a lean patch once in a while.