Cheteshwar Pujara's wife Puja Pabari (in pink dress) claps with others while celebrating her husband's double century on the 3rd day of the 2nd cricket Test match between India and Australia in Hyderabad. PTI Photo
Good fortune had little role to play in Cheteshwar Pujara's majestic double century in the Hyderabad, but the Rajkot run machine was glad ‘Lady Luck’ cheered him on from the stands.
When the Saurashtra batsman struck a purple patch and slammed a double-century against England in the first Test in Ahmedabad last November, he had just got engaged to Puja Pabari, an MBA from Rajkot, and she was there to watch her fiancé playing.
He got married before the series against Australia began, and Puja was again in the stands on Monday when Pujara converted his heroic innings, despite a hamstring injury, into his second Test double ton.
Puja was proud of her husband but would not put it down to luck.
“It's his hard work and dedication that has earned him the distinction. I just wanted to stay with him and so I am here,” she said.
Having got married a couple of days before the short camp began in Bangalore, there was no scope for a honeymoon. But Puja had no regrets.
“I knew his passion for cricket very well before we got into a relationship, so cricket is obviously his first love.”
A big win
It was triumph over adversity for Pujara, who suffered the hamstring injury early in his innings while diving to avoid being run out.
He limped through his innings but never let the physical pain affect his batting or the partnership with Murali Vijay.
“It has been settling down and I hope I will get better,” he said. Pujara was delighted to return to Hyderabad, where he scored 159 against New Zealand last year. “It has been good playing here. It helped having played here, I knew the wicket well.”
But he admitted he needs to work on the hook shot. He got to his 150 by hitting a six but that shot eventually cost his wicket.
“It's a scoring opportunity, but you need to play the shot at the right height. The ones above the shoulder, I need to leave those balls. I still need to learn that and I will be working on it.”
Pujara had no doubt India will wrap up the Test.
“I think they need to apply themselves, they don't know how to go about on the turning tracks,” he said about the Australian batsmen.
“We knew what their strengths were and we were trying to find out what their weaknesses are. So far we have been successful and our spinners need to continue what they are doing.”