India vs South Africa: Throwing caution to the wind, Cheteshwar Pujara hits a six again and registers a unique first
Team India’s number 3 Cheteshwar Pujara is perhaps one of the very few true blue Test cricketers left in the international game. In an era when batsmen are judged more on their ability to score faster than on technical acumen, watching Pujara bat sometimes feels like watching a black and white movie. His desire to occupy the crease and ability to grind it out in the middle in the face of hostile bowling and adverse conditions is a throwback to another generation, when putting a price tag on your wicket was the gold standard for judging a batsman.
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But Pujara knows he does not belong to the bygone era. He is a modern day cricketer who needs to contribute to the team’s cause and scoring runs at a fast pace is a necessity to survive in the modern game. From time to time Pujara shows flashes of a batsman who once harboured hopes of playing at the highest level across formats. He plays attacking shots and scores at a higher rate, just for him and his fans to fathom what could have been.
His knock in the second innings of the Vizag Test against South Africa reminded fans of his ability to clear the boundary as he hit spinner Dane Piedt for two sixes. Pujara hit two sixes off Piedt in the 34th and 50th over of India’s 2nd innings and ended up scoring 81 runs with the help of 13 fours and 2 maximums.
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On Thursday, Pujara came in to bat on the first day of the second Test in Pune after the early dismissal of opener Rohit Sharma. The Indian number 3 stringed a stable partnership with Mayank Agarwal and took India to a commanding position. He hit a maximum again, this time of the bowling of Senuran Muthusamy.
By doing so, Pujara for the first time in his Test career hit sixes in back to back matches. While this might not be a milestone to remember for Pujara, it surely signals a shift in intent of the batsman. He has often paid the price for going into a shell and not playing his shots as he looked to block deliveries when India were under pressure.
But Pujara knows the importance of adding runs under his belt and this could just be the reason for the shift in focus. Indian fans are not complaining though as they would want to see this talented batsman score as many runs he can, whatever be the style of play.