Cricket

Pujara: the iron man of India

Unsung hero: Pujara took blow after blow on the final day at the Gabba, but did not wilt.   | Photo Credit: Tertius Pickard

Steve Waugh and Mohinder Amarnath typified bravery. They took blows on the body from the quicks, shed blood on the pitch, but never gave their wicket away. It was a matter of pride and honour.

And both Waugh and Amarnath sported a red handkerchief in their pocket [for Amarnath it was the legacy of his father Lala] that was akin to showing the red rag to the bull. And they had the heart to withstand the barrage from the big, fast men.

In fact, when Amarnath made 91 and 80 taking on the Fab Four West Indian quicks on a fast Bridgetown pitch in ‘83, he was struck a grievous blow near his mouth by a Malcolm Marshall lifter. He spit out blood, got the wound stitched in the dressing room and returned to astonishingly hook the first delivery he faced — from Marshall — for a six.

Raw courage

We are talking raw courage here and Cheteshwar Pujara belongs to this breed. A blood and guts batsman who can withstand immense pain on the cricket field.

On the pulse pounding final day at the Gabba, Pujara took blow after blow on his body as the Australian quicks went after him with short-pitched deliveries; there was a distinct crack on the pitch too.

There were occasions when Pujara appeared in considerable pain but he batted on. Mentally he had entered a zone where physical agony was conquered by the will to stay at the wicket.

Pujara was the star the last time around when India defeated Australia for the first time in a Test series down under. This was a more demanding tour for Pujara. The Aussies bowled a lot closer to his off-stump, moved it both ways.

Pujara battled hard in Sydney staying at the crease for 286 minutes for a match-saving 77. And in the second innings at Gabba, he batted 314 minutes for a heroic 56.

Inside his shirt, his body would have sported many red marks caused by the impact of the lifting deliveries. There were times when Pujara endured painful hits on his knuckles. Nothing, though, broke his spirit as he went past 6,000 Test runs.

Pujara did not wilt and India, riding on young talent, ambushed Australia at fortress Gabba. And the seasoned Pujara was the unsung hero. He is the iron man of Indian cricket.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 3:03:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/pujara-the-iron-man-of-india/article33620515.ece

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