Sydney Test: Two years since scoring his last Test century at SCG, can Cheteshwar Pujara reach big landmark at same venue?
Cheteshwar Pujara is the closest that any Indian batsman of this generation has been to being called a ‘true blue’ Test specialist. He might not have the finesse of Rahul Dravid and the craft of VVS Laxman, but when it comes to dour defence and patience, he has oodles of both.
Pujara was the central figure in India’s batting as they claimed their maiden Test series win on Australian soil during the last tour. But India’s number 3 is yet to stamp his class on this series. His patient knock of 43 in the first innings of the Adelaide Test provided a great platform to India but he registered a duck in the second innings, which proved to be a historic low for the team as they were shut out at 36/9, their lowest ever Test total.
India bounced back in Melbourne, but Pujara failed to contribute to that victory as he was dismissed for 17 and 3.
But he has a chance to make amends at Sydney as India and Australia lock horns in the crucial third Test from Thursday. The track at SCG does not have the spice that some of the other venues do and Pujara will be looking for a big score if he manages to get his eye in.
If he scores 97 runs or more then Pujara will become the 11th Indian batsman to reach the milestone of 6000 runs. He currently has 5903 runs from 79 Test matches at an average of 47.60.
This will be his 133rd innings in Test cricket and if he breaches the landmark he will become the 6th fastest Indian to the milestone. Sunil Gavaskar reached 6000 Test runs in his 117th Test innings and that remains the fastest among Indian batsmen. Virat Kohli (119), Sachin Tendulkar (120), Virender Sehwag (123) and Rahul Dravid (125) are those ahead in the list.
Pujara should easily complete the landmark as the next Indian in line is Mohammed Azharuddin, who took 143 innings to reach the mark.
The right-handed batsman from Rajkot has gone 18 Test innings without a century and his last ton came in January 2019, exactly two years ago at the same venue, the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It was a knock of 193 that ended Australia’s chances of levelling the series as the rain curtailed match ended in a draw. If Pujara repeats his SCG heroics of two years ago, India will be a very good position to take the lead in the series.