Centurion Pujara shouldered burden in India rescue act

By Sports Desk December 06, 2018

Cheteshwar Pujara took it upon himself to step up after his India team-mates crumbled in the first Test against Australia on Thursday.

Pujara, batting from number three, made 123 on the opening day, despite an initially dismal performance from the tourists that had them at 86-5 just after lunch.

The in-form batsman led India's recovery as they closed at 250-9 and Pujara acknowledged the pressure was on in the closing stages after a partnership of 62 with Ravichandran Ashwin was ended.

"It was tough, particularly after losing seven wickets, but I knew that I could play my shots," Pujara said.

"Myself and Ash [Ashwin] had a good partnership and then, once we lost Ash, I knew I had to accelerate. I knew what shots I could play on the wicket because I batted for two sessions.

"But it was tough, particularly with the weather. We are used to it in India but still it was hot and humid."

Yet Pujara was frustrated by the nature of his dismissal with the final ball of the day as he was sensationally run out by Pat Cummins as he attempted to retain the strike.

"I was a bit disappointed, but I had to take the chance," he said. "The last two balls were left and I thought I should be on strike, so I took the chance but [Cummins] fielded brilliantly."

India could soon be boosted by the return of teenage opener Prithvi Shaw, however, as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered in a tour match.

"It was heart-breaking to see him go down the way he did but the good thing is he is recovering quickly," coach Ravi Shastri told SEN Radio.

"He's already started walking. Hopefully, if we can get him to him run a bit by the weekend, that's a really good sign.

"I would imagine [he will be fit for the third Test on December 26] but you never know. He's young. Sometimes different people recover differently.

"With youth on his side, there might just be a case where he might recover quicker. We'll take a call as and when we get closer to Perth [the second Test on December 14]."

Related items

  • Dwayne Smith hopes Shai keeps getting better Dwayne Smith hopes Shai keeps getting better

    Former Windies opener Dwayne Smith believes Shai Hope a cricketer with prodigious talent and some of his performances, even on the ongoing tour of Bangladesh, are just the start of more from the top-order batsman. 

  • Just good banter – Australia and India not concerned by Paine-Kohli exchange Just good banter – Australia and India not concerned by Paine-Kohli exchange

    Both Australia and India downplayed an incident between Tim Paine and Virat Kohli during day four of the second Test in Perth, insisting it was "just good banter" between the two captains.

    Having had a verbal exchange at stumps the previous day, the two captains again shared words before lunch during Monday's play, leading to umpire Chris Gaffaney stepping in to diffuse the situation.

    Paine did not immediately heed Gaffaney's request, with television footage picking up him telling his opposite number: "Keep your cool, Virat."

    Kohli responded only with a smile, and team-mate Mohammed Shami – who claimed Test-best figures of 6-56 – insisted after the close that neither party were in the wrong.

    "It is a part of the game. You play Test cricket for a long time; players might get carried away in the moment," he said.

    "If there's no sledging, you might not enjoy the game as much. When there's aggression, more people will come to watch the match."

    Paine attempted to stir the pot again during India's second innings later in the day, as he was heard on the stump microphone asking Murali Vijay a question about Kohli.

    "I know he's your captain, but you can't seriously like him as a bloke?" Australia's skipper said to the opening batsman.

    The home side's behaviour is in the spotlight following the ball-tampering issue on the tour of South Africa earlier this year and a subsequent independent review into Cricket Australia that branded the organisation "arrogant" and "controlling".

    Yet Josh Hazlewood felt what happened between team-mate Paine and India's Kohli was "all in good spirits", particularly as the game was in the balance at the time.

    The paceman also made clear Australia's players understand there is a line that should not be crossed in terms of their behaviour on the field.

    "I think it was all good fun," Hazlewood said. "It's quite competitive out there as you know, and there's going to be words from time to time, but it was all in good spirits, I think.

    "I think at stages in a game it is going to get heated from time to time.

    "I think we are pretty confident that we can hold that line that we have talked about as a group. It's more in the heat of the moment, definitely not a ploy to attack any batsman at any stage. It has been really good so far. Just good banter.

    "I don't think we read too much into it. We go about our work as we see fit and the Indians can do what they like.

    "We control what we control, and our behaviour is what we control. We'll worry about that and let everything else take care of itself."

    India, who won the first Test in Adelaide to go 1-0 up in the four-match series, reached the end of day four on 112-5 in pursuit of a victory target of 287.

  • India lose Shaw for Australia tour as defeat looms in Perth India lose Shaw for Australia tour as defeat looms in Perth

    India have announced Prithvi Shaw will miss the entire Test series against Australia with an ankle injury - but Hardik Pandya is fit to join up with his team-mates for the final two games.

    Opening batsman Shaw suffered an ankle injury while fielding during a warm-up fixture prior to the series, ruling him out of the opener in Adelaide - which India won - and the ongoing second Test in Perth.

    The teenager - who made 134 on debut against West Indies in October - has now been ruled out for the remainder of the tour, with uncapped batsman Mayank Agarwal called up as a replacement.

    However there was better news for India concerning Pandya, who has been called up to the squad after overcoming a back injury picked up during the Asia Cup, the all-rounder proving his fitness in domestic cricket.

    Both Agarwal and Pandya will be available for selection for the third Test in Melbourne, by which time the series could well be level at 1-1.

    Set 287 for victory in Perth, the tourists never recovered from losing two wickets inside the opening four overs of their run chase, eventually reaching the close on 112-5.

    Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood both claimed two wickets apiece for the hosts, and the latter is confident they can go on and complete the job.

    "There's a bit of work to be done - we've just got to stay disciplined and patient, hit the right areas and five wickets is what we need," paceman Hazlewood told the media.

    "It's been a bit of a long time between wins, but any time I'm playing in Australia, with the Australian cricket team, we feel pretty confident. 

    "Especially the bowlers feel very confident in getting 20 wickets and getting a result. As we saw last year [in the Ashes win over England], we got home four times out of five. 

    "So we're feeling pretty confident of putting that into practice more often than not this summer."

SportsMax Zone

Latest Tweets

Which match-up is the most mouth-watering of the round of 16? Champions League last 16: Draw in full  See full dr… https://t.co/kRVVZJTPx3
has Shai Hope's performances in the ODIs and now in this T20 changed the views on his ability as a short form crick… https://t.co/e8sRXkT7Ah
Will the Guyana Jaguars win it all again this season? https://t.co/Z7u7pJ57kP https://t.co/oR5FJLOHLz
Follow SportsMax on Twitter
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.