A 1,443-day long drought came to an end in Chattogram on Friday as Cheteshwar Pujara, for the first time since January 2019, reached three figures in Test cricket.
The 102* in the second innings was Pujara’s 19th Ton in Tests, but it truly was a knock like no other for a variety of reasons. At the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, the 34-year-old played arguably the most anomalous, atypical, eccentric and extraordinary knock of his 97-Test long career.
Here’s what made it truly one of a kind; the most un-Pujara knock of the Saurashtra man's Test career.
He attempted a reverse — FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS TEST CAREER!
That’s right. Prior to the 53rd over bowled by Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Pujara had faced 15,345 balls in Test cricket without attempting a single reverse-sweep. That changed on the second ball of the 53rd over as he — unsuccessfully — attempted a reverse-sweep. Just this one moment alone makes his ton on Friday the most un-Pujara knock of his career.
This was the fastest he’s ever batted against spinners!
Yes, it’s a known fact that Pujara is an excellent player of spin. On his good days, he is super busy and positive against the slower bowlers, and he ensures to put the bad balls away.
But today? Today Pujara was not just busy. He was ultra-aggressive.
In 104 balls of spin he faced today, Pujara amassed 92 runs. That’s a strike rate of 88.46.
Prior to today, in his 12-year-long Test career, never before had Pujara batted THIS quickly against spin in knocks in which he amassed 25 or more runs against the slower bowlers. His previous best came against Australia in New Delhi way back in 2013, where he scored 65 off 75 balls against spin at a SR of 86.67.
He showed more aggression than ever while charging!
Pujara, as we all know, loves to use his feet. One of his go-to shots against spin is the good old charge.
Again, his knock today was one of a kind because he showed more aggression than EVER while giving the charge. Pujara gave the charge 29 times, and amassed 35 runs at a strike rate of 120.69.
He hit six fours in total while using his feet, three of them being lofted hits.
Prior to today, in knocks in which he’d collected 35 or more runs while giving the charge, Pujara had never batted at run-a-ball or more, his previous best SR reading 88.37.
He certainly was a man on a mission!
Pujara notched up his fastest Test century, EVER!
At the ripe old age of 34, Pujara, on Friday, notched up his FASTEST EVER TEST TON!
By getting to the three-figure mark in 130 balls, Pujara smashed his previous record of 146 balls, which came against West Indies way back in 2013.
The most fluent Pujara Test knock since his last ton
In many ways, just the eye test was enough to draw the conclusion that Pujara’s innings today in Chattogram was his most fluent in Test cricket in at least three years. Indeed, he was up against a weakened bowling attack that was without two frontline bowlers, but still, the veteran batted like a man possessed.
The numbers, too, confirm that Friday was Pujara’s most free-flowing knock since his last ton, which came all the way back in January 2019 against Australia.
Pujara’s balls attacked percentage of 43.80% on Friday was the highest across his last 29 Tests (52 innings). In fact, in the 51 other knocks in which he’d scored at least one run, Pujara had a balls attacked % of more than 25% just twice.
His dot percentage of 60% was also the lowest across his last 52 innings (minimum 20 runs). He was simply sublime!
After enduring a horror three-year period in which he seemed to have lost his ability to accelerate, Pujara’s showing in Chattogram on Friday bodes well for both he and team India.
His return to form couldn’t have come at a better time, considering in two months’ time, the Indian side will be playing the all-important four Test series at home against the Saurashtra man’s favorite opponents.
Cheteshwar Pujara: 103 Tests, 103 Opinions
Cheteshwar Pujara does it again, this time as Sussex's captain
Cheteshwar Pujara, old wine in a new bottle
Seven instances of Cheteshwar Pujara's masterclass in Test cricket
Glimmer of hope for Pujara as he scripts incredible comeback in Sussex colours
Decoded: What ails Cheteshwar Pujara?
The atypical conundrum of India's Rock of Gibraltar
Bastab K Parida
Dream is to win WTC trophy, but still got lot to achieve: Pujara