There is an equanimity about Cheteshwar Pujara that is both endearing and reassuring. I don’t know if this calm comes from a religious bent of mind or maybe just an awareness that it is the right thing for him, but it certainly helps him focus.
And focus he does, for long hours, for without that he wouldn’t be piling up these big scores. At No. 3, you should be able to bow to the conditions and respect them one day, and demolish the bowling when required. Pujara showed both skills in Hyderabad and in doing so, conquered the wicket and the opposition.
As Murali Vijay said at the end of day two, it wasn’t an easy wicket on which to come in and get going straightaway. And so Pujara played himself in diligently on the second morning, aware that Australia’s chance lay in procuring early wickets. He only made 15 before lunch in 22 overs of occupation.
It wasn’t denial for remember, the bowling was earnest and there was a sting to it. It was an investment he was making for his immediate future.
In the second session as the bowlers flagged, as the unrelenting sun made things uncomfortable, he strung out another 58. The benefits were being reaped but it wasn’t yet time to cash in. That came after tea in a thrilling exploitation of Australia’s limited bowling.
The new ball was 17 overs away and, with the temperature in the high thirties, Michael Clarke couldn’t risk James Pattinson and Peter Siddle. That meant the back-up had to be pressed in from both ends. Strangely Australia had gone in very light on that front and that presented a real opportunity. Having played himself in Pujara was ready to make the move. He seized the moment.
In spite of a hamstring that was sore, Pujara unfurled shots that you would never have believed he possessed while he was batting in the morning. 89 came off his bat alone in this phase and the new ball came and went unable to create an impression. It had been a vintage innings, classical and old-fashioned in its conception; not quite a thriller, more like a well constructed essay.
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