Cheteshwar Pujara (TOI Photo)
NEW DELHI: Cheteshwar Pujara‘s ability to occupy the crease is what makes him one of the most potent weapons for India in the longest format of the game. Australia have borne the brunt of this in recent years and perhaps the greatest example of it was Pujara’s 525-ball epic knock of 202 in the 2017 Ranchi Test.
The knock was the longest by an Indian batsman in Test history in terms of ball faced and Pujara says that when the team total had crossed 500 during that match, he could see the tiredness in the eyes of the Australian bowlers.
“I still have to give them credit,” Pujara said about the Australian bowlers on Thursday while talking on Sony Ten Pit Stop that was aired on the network’s Facebook page.
Spinners Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon had bowled 77 and 46 overs respectively. Fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood charged in for 39 and 44 overs respectively. Australia were defending a first innings total of 451 and Pujara’s knock helped India reach 603/9d.
Pujara, who batted for 11 hours in that innings, said that the 199-run stand he shared with wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, who also scored a ton, was crucial.
“They were running in throughout and trying their best to get us out. But the important thing was the partnership with Saha.
“Without him I don’t think we would have achieved such a big total. At the same time, it was a pitch which didn’t have much for the bowlers. (Australian bowlers) have always needed some pace from the pitch to beat the batsman.
“So it must have been very difficult for them but they kept at it with a lot of energy. As a batsman I always love such challenges. Towards the end when we scored more than 500, I could see the tiredness in their eyes.”
The Australians managed to squeeze a draw thanks to a defiant 200-ball 72 from Peter Handscomb and the series remained level at 1-1 going into the final Test at Dharamsala. India won that match to clinch the series.