What’s the story?
Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke has lavished praise on Cheteshwar Pujara for his marathon double century in the Ranchi Test. Alluding to his solidity at the vital number three spot, he went on to compare the Saurashtra batsman with the legendary Rahul Dravid.
“Cheteshwar Pujara has a lot of similarities to Rahul Dravid, 'The Wall'. Had it not been for his double hundred, India would have lost the Ranchi Test. He is definitely India's wall. He builds the innings and others play around him”, Clarke told India Today.
On the visitors’ impressive rearguard in Ranchi, he felt, “(These are) great signs for this young Australian team. They will take a lot of confidence from this draw into the next Test match. We saw the other side of the coin today. The wicket was very good to bat on and once you got in, it was difficult to be dismissed. Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh batted exceptionally well.”
During his meticulous 202 in the third Test in Ranchi, Pujara faced a whopping 525 deliveries. The 29-year old went past Dravid’s knock of 270 from 495 balls in the 2004 Rawalpindi Test to create a new Indian record for the most deliveries faced in a Test innings.
The heart of the matter
In response to Australia’s strong total of 451 in the first-innings, India relied on Pujara’s resolute effort to eke out a 152-run lead. The right-hander built significant partnerships with Murali Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha to swell the hosts’ total.
Extra Cover: The significance of Cheteshwar Pujara
Entering the final day, the visitors had already lost two wickets and were adrift of 129 runs. When Matt Renshaw and skipper Steven Smith were dismissed early, they were staring down the barrel. However, Handscomb and Marsh joined hands to keep the Indian bowlers at bay. The match eventually ended in stalemate.
Parallels from history
Pujara made his debut against Australia in the 2010 Bangalore Test. Having been promoted above Dravid in India’s second innings, he chipped in with a 89-ball 72 to help his team chase down a tricky target.
As captain Virat Kohli noted at the end of the Ranchi Test, Pujara is an extremely valuable member of India’s Test team. However, he needs to put in consistent performances away from the subcontinent against tough bowling attacks to reach the level of a complete batsman like Dravid. Going by Pujara’s admirable work-ethic and temperament, it won’t be a surprise if he lifts his game in the next round of away tours.