'I will always pick him in my all-time XI': Harbhajan Singh's high praise for India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara batted for hours, took body blows but did not let his guard down for one bit in the recently-concluded four-match Test series against Australia which India won 2-1. Pujara’s grittiness with the bat and never say die attitude impressed veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, so much so that he went on to state that Pujara will always be a part of his all-time Test XI.
Pujara, who had scored three hundreds in India’s 2018-19 tour, once again ended up as India’s highest run-scorer but this time around without scoring a century. Pujara did not get to three figures in the four Tests but his contribution in the Sydney and Brisbane Tests were like gold dust.
India’s No.3 scored three fifties and all three of them came at crucial junctures, the third one probably more important than the other two.
Pujara’s innings of 56 in the Brisbane Test allowed the likes of Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant to play their natural game and go for the 328-run target, something that Harbhajan feels is Pujara’s best quality.
“He was fantastic even in the last series. His fifty was so crucial. He held one end up and other people went there to score runs,” Harbhajan told India Today.
“He’s someone very very important, I will always pick him in my all-time XI because he is the one who lets the others play the way they want to and achieve whatever the target is in front of us,” Harbhajan added.
He totalled 271 runs with a strike rate of 29.2 but more importantly faced 928 balls -- the most of any batsman in the four-test series.
“It was a great series. We started very confidently, having played well last time (2018-19). We started off well, we were ahead on the first two days at Adelaide. Then, on the third day, in one hour, we lost the game. There was a disappointment, but the way we came back, it was one of the best comebacks in my cricketing career. If I have to rate the best Test series against Australia, I will be confused between the 2017 series at home, the series in 2018-19, and this one. With the side we had, this one will be one of the best,” Pujara told Hindustan Times in an interview.