Fresh off his heroics in the Test series against Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara, like everyone else, is reveling in the euphoria of India’s historic 2-1 triumph Down Under. Pujara may have not been able to replicate his enormous feat of scoring 521 runs in the 2018-19 series, but India’s No. 3 waged a very different yet crucial battle for India.
Pujara scored three half-centuries, all of them in testing conditions against a group of hostile fast bowlers, and the famous 56 he scored at the Gabba in the fourth Test, an innings during which he took 11 blows to his body will be remembered for ages. He walked out to bat when India had lost opening batsman Rohit Sharma early, and weathered the storm like only he can. Another wicket at that stage could have hurt India, but Pujara forged a remarkable century partnership with Shubman Gill, a youngster for whom the 33-year-old Pujara did not hold back in his praises.
“He is one of the best timers of the ball. He has a natural ability to react to the ball a little earlier. He gets that extra fraction of time to judge the length, the line, and then play his shots, whether it be the pull or a cover drive. He has quick hands and his downswing is so good that even when he defends the ball, with that timing, sometimes, it goes for two or three runs. Sometimes it feels like he is playing with hard hands, but he is so good at his timing,” Pujara told ESPNcricinfo.
Gill made his Test debut during the second Test in Brisbane, scoring 45 and 35* as India came back to win the match by eight wickets. In Sydney, Gill peeled off his maiden Test fifty, scoring 50 in India’s second innings with the match ending in a famous draw. However, Gill’s kept his best for the final innings of the series, as his 91 gave India, who were chasing 328 to win, a chance to go for the kill. Pujara weighed in on Gill’s technique, referring it to a ‘double-edged sword’.
“If I speak about his batting technically, it is a double-edged sword. If you remember, he was out a few times against Pat Cummins earlier in the series, caught at gully or slip, but at the same time Gill can play the same ball for two or three. He is managing it really well. He is very talented and I hope he continues to improve because we need good openers,” Pujara added.
“Gill’s strength lies in the way he plays and that is why he is successful. If he tries to bat time or tries to defend for longer periods, it could pose a challenge for him.”