Hyderabad, Aug 23: What an effort from the young man at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Thursday. Cheteshwar Pujara grabbed his chance to bat at number three with a fine hundred against New Zealand in the firs Test.
The 24-year-old, showed fine temperament under pressure to register his first Test century in his four five-day game. He had waited for more than one and half years since his last Test in January 2011. He has made his comeback with a bang. He remained unbeaten on 119 at the end of first day as India posted 307/5 in 87 overs.
Following the departure of two Indian batting stalwarts, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the onus was on the youngsters to make an impact. And the first one to impress was Pujara.
India were not sure who should bat at number three slot, then they chose to send Pujara after the early dismissal of Gautam Gambhir.
The number three spot was occupied for a long time by Dravid. He had scored 49 fifty plus scores at that slot and today Pujara was only the fifth Indian batsman at No. 3 to go past 50. The other three are Laxman (9 fifty plus scores), captain MS Dhoni and Amith Mishra (both one 50 plus scores each).
Pujara's innings on Thursday, definitely reminded fans of Dravid. Throughout his innings, Pujara stayed calm and composed at the crease. He built his innings quietly in the first half. But after his half century he accelerated his scoring.
From 50 off 119 balls, Pujara took 50 for the next set of his half century. His 100 came off 169 balls with 14 boundaries and a six.
Pujara's previous highest Test score was 72, on debut in second innings, which came in a match winning cause against Australia in October 2010 Bangalore.
The right-hander has always scored big in domestic cricket. He has four triple hundreds to his name. All have been scored for Saurashtra. He registered one 300 plus score at Under-14 level, two at Under-22 and one in first class cricket.
For any batsman, Test ton is always special. And Pujara will certainly cherish this for a very long time. Overall, this was his 15th first class three-figure mark in 65th match.
Though it is not fair to start comparisons with Dravid, Pujara was announced his arrival at the Test arena. Hope he continues to blossom.
"It is privilege to be compared with Dravid but I am nowhere near him. He has scored more than 10,000 runs while I am just beginning my career," Pujara had said recently.
He is right. Let the youngster try and play his game and not be burdened with comparisons.
Pujara has begun his "second Test debut" well, hope he continues to blossom.