While Sachin Tendulkar took centre stage after the fall of M. Vijay on Thursday, and went on to score a half century in his farewell Test, India’s young middle order batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma came up with performances that indicate that they have the ability to make up a competent Indian middle-order in the years to come.
The general refrain is that no one can replace the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid, and that batsmen like Pujara, Virat Kohli and Sharma bring in their own flair and character.
On Friday, Pujara and Sharma notched up contrasting centuries; both were steady and showed flair.
“Initially, I was trying to settle down because I thought there could be some help for the West Indies bowlers, but it did not turn out that way. I was on 34, and I just wanted to play my natural game,” said Pujara.
“It was noisy and it was difficult to concentrate. It was really disappointing to see him (Tendulkar) miss a century, but his knock was the best among the three of us today.
“I am sure his preparation for this Test would have been very intense. He was as determined today as he must have been when playing his first game. There are many things to learn from his innings. It’s always a pleasure to watch him bat. We had a partnership going and it gave me a nice feeling. It’s difficult to stay focused when you are playing your last game; that’s why it was incredible the way he played.”
Pujara said India has played well as a team, and it should be given all the credit.
On Sharma who got his century batting with the tail, Pujara said: “Today Rohit batted really well; I think he did the same thing V.V.S. Laxman used to do, batting with the tail-enders. “He was 50-odd when we were eight down, and to score a century is a big achievement. He’s good form; he did well in the ODIs against Australia and in the first Test at Eden Gardens.”
Off-spinner Shane Shillingford who has sent down 98 overs in two innings this series and has taken 11 wickets, said the Indian batsmen really played well, and Tendulkar was classy. “I think he is an awesome batsman. He uses his feet very well, coming back and forward, getting to the pitch of the ball, riding the turn and everything. It has worked for him doing this for so many years.”