Over the years, I have witnessed many a Pujara ‘special’ in the Ranji Trophy. If I remember correctly, he started his first-class career with a double hundred against Punjab.
Friday was a red-letter day for Saurashtra cricket. I am immensely proud of the fact that our chhora scored a brilliant double hundred on a turning wicket against a world-class attack. We (Saurashtra Ranji Trophy side) were practising at the stadium in Hyderabad but kept track of the developments in Ahmedabad. Luckily, there was a TV in our dressing room! The whole team celebrated Chintu’s (Cheteshwar Pujara’s) success.
The hallmark of Pujara’s knock was that he played well within his limitations. He was determined, worked extremely hard and hardly played a loose shot. One of the commentators suggested Pujara should have accelerated after reaching the three-figure mark. But when the team needs a 500-plus score, one batsman has to stay there. Pujara did just that today.
Everyone can’t score run-a-ball hundreds like Virender Sehwag. But even yesterday (Thursday), people criticised Viru for throwing it away! So let’s give Pujara credit for remaining unbeaten.
Pujara is known to play long, patient knocks and that’s one reason I am not too surprised with his performance. I am 17 years his senior and first watched him bat when he was about 15. It was a district-level match and the manner in which he batted was unbelievable. I was sure the boy would go places.
Over the years, I have witnessed many a Pujara ‘special’ in the Ranji Trophy.
If I remember correctly, he started his first-class career with a double hundred against Punjab. I had scored a century in that game. His best knock has to be the one against Karnataka at the Brabourne Stadium in 2008. We were chasing 325 for a place in the semifinals and were reduced to 13/3! Pujara and I added 163 for the fourth wicket.
By the time I was dismissed for 87, we were still 149 away. Pujara held fort and scored an unbeaten 112. Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Shah, our skipper, scored quick fifties and we won by five wickets. The best part was that Pujara scored those runs in the presence of Rahul Dravid.
—Kotak, a teammate of Pujara, is a champion performer in domestic cricket. The 40-year-old from Saurashtra has scored over 7,500 first-class runs. He spoke to Derek Abraham