Cheteshwar Pujara lists down his favourite knocks in Test cricket
Cheteshwar Pujara enlisted his "favourite knocks" in Test match cricket. The great Indian No.3, who is looking forward to another intense tussle with Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, recalled four innings where tamed the Australian beast and made a great impact on India's fortunes.
In no particular order of preference, Pujara picked these four knocks versus the Australians to be his absolute favourites. To start off the list, he picked out his encouraging second-innings 72 on debut in the Bangalore 2010 Test, which witnessed the first moment of passing the baton as Pujara came out batting at No.3 despite legendary Rahul Dravid also playing the match.
The second one that stays close to Cheteshwar Pujara is an immensely critical 92 at the same venue for the 2017 Test. With the series on the line, the veteran right-hander produced a knock for the ages, transforming the on-field play and changing India's fortunes after conceding an 87-run lead in the first half. Pujara's knock altered the proceedings and led to a famous Indian win.
"See, each and every knock of mine is important for me. It will be difficult to rate them. But what I can do is mention some of my favourite knocks against Australia, not ranking-wise, though. I’ll start with my debut innings," Pujara told the Times of India.
"When you are playing your debut game, it's always important. I’ll always remember those 72 runs that I scored. There was a lot of pressure on me. As a youngster, I was anxious, I hadn’t done well in the first innings. Since I had scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket, I wanted to prove that I belong to the international level."
"After that, the 92 against Australia (in the second innings) in Bangalore in 2017. We were on the backfoot. We had been bowled out cheaply in the first innings, they had a 87-run lead, and in the second innings, we were 120 for 4. And then I had a match-defining 118-run partnership with Ajinkya, and my knock was decisive too," he added.
Pujara recalls four of his best
As for the third, Cheteshwar Pujara cast his mind back to December 2018 when his incredible 123 on Day 1 of the Adelaide Test saw him fight a lone battle against the Aussies and give India a semblance of respectability about their score. Reaching 250 mainly due to Pujara, India made an inspiring comeback to dismiss Australia for 235 and ultimately clinched a famous victory, going on to win a Test series Down Under for the first time.
The fourth of the lot was Pujara's character-defining 56 in the second-innings of India's epic chase at Gabba in the Brisbane Test of 2021, where his ability to soak in the pressure of hostile fast-bowling in extremely challenging circumstances helped India push along to a victory for the ages.
"And then the 123 at Adelaide in December 2018 will always remain very special for me and the team, because we were 41 for 4, and then 127 for 6 in the first innings, and I had little partnerships with Rohit (Sharma) and (Ravichandran Ashwin) and then with the tailenders, and we ended up putting 250 on the board. That was a special knock because it allowed our bowlers to bowl them out for 235 and be in the game."
"Of course, I can’t forget the 56 at the Gabba in January 2021. It was a special knock for me because when you get hit so many times, to still be able to bat in the middle…it was a different motivation altogether to win that Test and that series… to keep fighting against such a good bowling lineup. The circumstances weren’t favourable for the batsmen. So, you had to fight your way out," Pujara added.