It was pleasing to see a young Indian batsman make the most of his opportunity at the Hyderabad Cricket Association stadium on Thursday. Cheteshwar Pujara has been talked about on the domestic circuit for quite some time now, and there have been ample reasons for that. He has gone through the grind at the domestic level, been in the Indian team for a short period, and missed out due to injury. But given a fresh opportunity, he has shown that he is a great prospect for the future.
Many will jump the gun and say that we have a replacement for Rahul Dravid at number three in the Indian batting line-up. Let’s not do that. Dravid’s career didn’t take shape overnight. He is a legend of the game, and it’s unwise to burden a young man with such a comparison. We should leave Pujara to enjoy his game and build on the potential he has shown during this maiden hundred.
He looks very calm and composed, organised and solid. To me, he resembled the head boy of the class; meticulous in his approach to each and every aspect of the matter he was dealing with. It was nice to see him on the front foot most of the time. He was also decisive with his back-foot play when the situation demanded. He will need that when he travels outside the sub-continent.
He has all the shots in the book,and loves to play them. Genuine quick bowlers will test him in overseas conditions, on hard bouncy pitches. That will be the time when he will need to be more selective in his shot selection. But till such time arrives, let Pujara focus on what looks to be a natural, free-flowing game.
He was very patient, and there was no haste to get to the magic three figures. His innings was a contrast to Virat Kohli’s flamboyance, and I’m sure we’ll see and hear a lot more of both in the future.
Pujara’s mental strength is not in question. People who have followed his career very closely will know that he has had his share of injuries. He has fought back strongly each time. This innings had the mark of a good player, one who should get better and better.
For the moment, I’ll just say this: Well done, Cheteshwar, and welcome to the best format of the game.