Patience, a part of Pujara's character

Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten century on the fourth day of the Indore Test not only took the game firmly away from the Kiwis but also took him to the top spot in the list of highest run-getters in the series.

Cheteshwar Pujara... 373 runs in the three Tests against the Kiwis.   -  AP

With the Test series getting over a day earlier, many Indian players made a quick exit from Indore to spend a day at home before kickstarting the limited overs’ phase of the tour in Dharamsala over the weekend. While a couple of reserves joined their respective domestic sides, Cheteshwar Pujara quietly boarded a flight to his hometown Rajkot on Wednesday afternoon.

With the limited connectivity between the two developing cities in India, Pujara had to take two flights before reaching home. But he wouldn’t mind. After all, patience has been a part of his character; not just on the field but off it, too. Some of us may find it odd but Pujara created as much buzz at the Devi Ahilya airport in Indore and on the Mumbai-bound flight as Mohammed Shami, the pick of India’s pacers.

Pujara may be the centrally contracted player in BCCI’s ranks not to have been signed by any IPL franchise. But his following has received a big boost, thanks to his recent exploits in the format that he relishes. His unbeaten century on the fourth day of the Indore Test not only took the game firmly away from the Kiwis but also took him to the top spot in the list of highest run-getters in the series.

A tally of 373 runs in three Tests that saw challenging conditions for batsmen is certainly a phenomenal achievement. His three fifties in Kanpur and Kolkata were pivotal in relatively low-scoring games. But his two knocks in both the innings assured that Pujara seems to have regained his trait of scoring consistently and playing the role of sheet anchor to perfection.

His first-innings score of 41 may not attract eyeballs. But the fact that he saw off the first session of the Test match and set up the platform for Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to rewrite the record books cannot be undermined. Just when he was set for a big one, he lost his concentration, a problem that has dogged him in recent times, to a good ball. “You expect good balls in international cricket but I could have defended that as well,” he said after the second day’s play in Indore.

When it came to the second innings, Pujara showed his prowess of making short work of the spin bowlers, even on a surface that was breaking up with every passing over. En route his eighth century, he also displayed his ability of upping the scoring rate once he was set. It was similar to what had helped him earn the accolades during his early years.

As the India-New Zealand entourage continues its march across India for the ODI series, many will forget Pujara’s contribution in the Test series. But unmindful of it, the man himself, after taking a weeklong break, will be back in white flannels, and will be digging in for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy and prepare for the sterner Tests lying ahead in the season.