Cheteshwar Pujara has been a vital cog in India’s success in the longest format in recent years. The man personifies everything that test cricket stands for: grit, determination and resilience. For Pujara, there has been no short cut to success. He has built his career brick by brick, churning out runs first in junior cricket and then in domestic cricket, before stepping on to the big stage that is international cricket.
As Pujara turns 33 today, we took a look at some stats from his career that show just how integral he is to the Indian side.
A prolific number three
Pujara had massive shoes to fill, those of Rahul Dravid, when he was handed the number three spot in India’s batting line-up in 2012. Eight years later, he has followed his predecessor to become only the second Indian batsman to score 5,000+ test runs at the number three position. His calm and assured presence at the spot has provided a lot of stability to the Indian batting.
Australia’s woes against Pujara have now become stuff of legend. Nobody among active Indian batsmen, not even Virat Kohli, has scored more runs against the Aussies in tests than Pujara. He was the architect of India’s triumph down under in 2018-19, when he amassed 521 runs at an average of 74.43 with three centuries in four tests. Two years later, when India repeated their feat, he didn’t have as many runs to show again but did his part for the side by holding fort in tough situations and tiring the opposition. Pujara also holds the distinction of having faced more deliveries than any other batsman against Australia since 2010.
Nobody loves batting as much as Puji does
Pujara can bat and bat and bat. Given a choice, he’d bat the entire day of a test match, pitch a tent on the wicket for the night and resume batting the next morning. Pujara’s brand of batting is to bat out time. He aims to consume as many deliveries as possible, thereby wearing the opposition’s bowlers down. He is the only Indian batsman to have faced 500 balls in a single test innings. His 525-ball marathon came, not surprisingly, against Australia at Ranchi in 2017.
A beast in Asia
Cheteshwar Pujara is an absolute run-machine in the subcontinent. He averages nearly 60 at home, and 10 of his career tally of 18 centuries have come in India. In the four test matches that he has played in Sri Lanka, he has scored 454 runs with three centuries at an astonishing average of 90.80.