CRICKET / He becomes the 37th Indian batsman to score ton against England

 It’s too early to say that Cheteshwar Pujara has become India’s talisman; the fact is that India has not lost a Test when Pujara, who made his debut against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore in October 2010, has played for the team.

Before his first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium here, Pujara figured in India’s wins against Australia (by seven wickets), against South Africa (Kingsmead, Durban, December 2010), against New Zealand at Hyderabad (by an innings and 115 runs), at Bangalore (by five wickets) in the recently played two-Test series against the Kiwis. The Test match at Cape Town ended in a draw.

In the first session on Friday he became the 37th Indian batsman to score a century against England and took the overall Indians’ centuries against England to 83.

Pujara cleared the one-Test century jinx rather quickly; he had made 159 and paved the way for a convincing win against New Zealand at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium at Uppal.

One can say that Pujara has been able to bring the consistency level of his performance for Saurashtra to the Indian team.

He has played six Tests so far and has firmly staked claim to take the spot so brilliantly held by Rahul Dravid.

One can also say that he has faced a decent crop of frontline fast bowlers such as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Chris Martin, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, James Franklin, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and has met with success.

Injury kept him out of the tours of England and Australia last year and also in the home series against the West Indies. But being named the India ‘A’ captain for the West Indies tour was a turning point in his quick return to the national side.

He showed the way for several Saurashtra batsmen in the Ranji Trophy. But after being dismissed by Johnson in his first Test innings and then following it up with 72 turned out to be a massive confidence-booster for him. He has learnt a lot of lessons just watching the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Sehwag and Gambhir.

Pujara has passed the litmus test of sorts in India; he will be put through the wringer when he begins to play more overseas Tests.

As of now his high scores are 72 against Australia, 159 and 48 against New Zealand and the century against England.

He has triggered great interest for the game in Saurashtra.

He has been highly successful at the Race Ground in Rajkot and also to an extent the new venue in Khanderi Village where India and England will play the first One-Day International and surely he would like to improve the record at other Gujarat venues — at Motibagh Palace ground at Vadodara and the Sardar Vallabhai Patel stadium in Surat.

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