Cheteshwar Pujara does not score the most exhilarating runs, but he scores an awful lot of them.
On Friday, the India ‘A’ captain became only the ninth batsman to hit three triple-centuries in the history of first-class cricket with a relentless, unbeaten 306 against West Indies ‘A’ at the KSCA Stadium here.
Pujara’s innings and his subsequent declaration on a lead of 296 left the tourist staring at a bleak future in this final four-day match.
The situation turned direr by the close, when West Indies ‘A’ had lost three wickets for 116. India ‘A’ will thus go into the final day with a good chance of levelling the series.
In the morning, Pujara, not out on 139 overnight, resumed his work in earnest.
There is a painless, noiseless quality to the right-hander’s runs without any element of risk or bravado.
But this in no way means he is slow.
His innings of some 10 hours took only 415 balls — a strike rate of 73.73. He offered the one chance on 198, an edge to second slip two balls from lunch; but Ashley Nurse failed to hold on.
Pujara duly cashed in after the interval, skipping past 200 and getting after the bowlers.
The dismissals of Dhawal Kulkarni and Bhargav Bhatt off successive balls, however, left him on 273 with only the number eleven Ishwar Pandey for company.
Even as the tension mounted, Pujara got there in a hurry, lashing Miguel Cummins to the fence thrice in the same over before sealing it with a drive through the covers.
His last 71 runs had taken 55 balls — quick, but like the rest of his innings, quiet.
The scores: West Indies ‘A’ — 1st innings: 268.
India ‘A’ — 1st innings: V.A. Jagadeesh b D. Johnson 16 ( 40b, 1x4 ), Gautam Gambhir b Deonarine 123 ( 236b, 11x4 ), Cheteshwar Pujara (not out) 306 ( 415b, 33x4 ), Virender Sehwag c Nurse b Miller 38 ( 49b, 2x4, 1x6 ), Abhishek Nayar c sub (Walton) b Fudadin 11 ( 20b ), Paras Dogra b Miller 7 ( 30b, 1x4 ), Uday Kaul c sub (Walton) b Nurse 26 ( 68b, 1x4 ), Dhawal Kulkarni c Cummins b Deonarine 6 ( 22b ), Zaheer Khan c Powell b Nurse 19 ( 18b, 1x4, 2x6 ), Bhargav Bhatt b Nurse 0 ( 1b ), Ishwar Pandey (not out) 0 ( 3b ); Extras (b-1, lb-6, nb-2, w-3): 12; Total (for nine wkts. decl. in 150 overs): 564.
Fall of wickets: 1-35 (Jagadeesh), 2-242 (Gambhir), 3-317 (Sehwag), 4-340 (Nayar), 5-359 (Dogra), 6-452 (Kaul), 7-491 (Kulkarni), 8-531 (Zaheer), 9-531 (Bhatt).
West Indies ‘A’ bowling: Cummins 23-4-71-0, D. Johnson 22-3-98-1, Carter 6-1-22-0, Miller 40-8-112-2, Nurse 29-1-106-3, Fudadin 16-3-60-1, Deonarine 13-1-78-2, Brathwaite 1-0-10-0.
West Indies ‘A’ — 2nd innings: Kraigg Brathwaite lbw b Pandey 21 ( 53b, 2x4 ), Kieran Powell lbw b Zaheer 6 ( 11b ), Leon Johnson b Kulkarni 1 ( 2b ), Narsingh Deonarine (batting) 44 ( 80b, 5x4 ), Assad Fudadin (batting) 36 ( 66b, 3x4 ); Extras (b-1, lb-5, nb-2): 8; Total (for three wkts. in 35 overs): 116.
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Powell), 2-18 (L. Johnson), 3-57 (Brathwaite).
India ‘A’ bowling: Zaheer 8-1-32-1, Kulkarni 7-1-22-1, Nayar 4-0-12-0, I. Pandey 6-3-11-1, Sehwag 8-0-25-0, Bhatt 2-0-8-0.