Cheteshwar Pujara hit his 11th career hundred on the third day of the third Test against Australia in Ranchi on Saturday. Pujara became the first Indian to score a hundred this series with a glorious cover drive off Pat Cummins. He took 214 balls to reach the landmark and he smashed 14 boundaries. The first 50 runs took 155 balls but the second came at just 59 balls. (Day 3 India vs Australia updates)
Pujara’s overseas form has been a little suspect as he averages over 33 with just two hundreds but there is no doubt that at home, Pujara has got everything going for him. With Australia notching up 451 in the first innings and Virat Kohli being dismissed for only six, Pujara had to make his start count if India were to get close to the total. (Day 3 India vs Australia scorecard)
A breezy 91-run opening stand meant Pujara didn’t have the pressure of scoring quickly when he came out to bat at the fall of KL Rahul’s wicket on Friday evening. He normally takes time to get his eye in but once he does that, it’s hard to dislodge Pujara. The presence of Murali Vijay at the other end helped.
With Vijay taking care of the big shots, the Saurashtra right-hander was allowed to take his time. Pujara was mostly reliant on either glancing the ball off his pads or running it down through slips or gully to rotate the strike during the initial period of his innings. With Vijay, Pujara raised a 102-run partnership for the second wicket.
By the time the new ball was taken and both Vijay and Kohli were dismissed, Pujara was ready to shift gears. Cummins erred by presenting him with a full toss that he gladly flicked through midwicket for a boundary. In Cummins’ next over, Pujara hit two contrasting boundaries --- a fine glance almost off his ribs followed by a punch through point.
Clearly more aggressive, Pujara didn’t look in control when his attempted drive against Nathan Lyon flew past first slip in the 85th over. But he quickly composed himself all over again to milk singles that took him to the 90s. Pujara reached 95 with an on-drive off Steve O’Keefe before Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed. But he again took on Cummins in the 94th over to reach his second hundred against Australia.