India vs Australia: Cheteshwar Pujara slams fifty at MCG, continues to pursue Rahul Dravid’s record
Indian captain Virat Kohli’s luck with the coin toss is known to everyone but on Wednesday he called it right at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the crucial third Test against Australia. Those in attendance soon realised how vital it was for India to win the toss as the surface didn’t have the pace and bounce that one saw in Perth.
India lost Hanuma Vihari early but debutant Mayank Agarwal showed no nerves and took the attack to the Australians. While Agarwal was scripting a fairytale debut at the fabled MCG, one man on the other end kept doing what he is best known for. Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ at number 3 was patience personified again.
Pujara left most and played a shot only when a delivery was in his range. He put on 83 for the second wicket with Mayank Agarwal and then shared an unbeaten 92-run stand with captain Virat Kohli to take India to 215/2 at stumps on Day 1.
By the end of day’s play Pujara had blunted 200 deliveries from the 534 that the Aussies had bowled, which is nearly 40 percent of the total deliveries faced by the Indian batsmen. While doing so, Pujara brought up his 21st half-century in Test cricket and 8th against the Aussies.
The half-century was Pujara’s 19th in Test cricket as a number 3 batsman and that puts him on the second spot behind his predecessor Rahul Dravid in the list of most half-centuries scored by an India number 3.
While there a long way for Pujara to catch up with Dravid, what is interesting and encouraging is the Saurashtra batsman’s conversion rate at the number three spot. With 19 half-centuries and 15 centuries, Pujara is expected to score a ton most of the times when he passes the half-century mark.
This augurs well for India who will be looking to post a huge first innings total at Melbourne to put the hosts under pressure.