‘We couldn’t afford to lose wickets’: Cheteshwar Pujara reveals why he ‘decided to let the ball hit the body’
- Pujara scored 54 in the second innings and kept India steady. En route to the slowest half-century of his Test career, Pujara endured 11 blows to the body. Yes, 11 – thrice on the helmet, once on the left bicep, thrice on the bottom glove on his right arm, and once on the chest, and some more.
Rishabh Pant may have emerged the hero of India’s epic Test win in Brisbane, but the achievement of beating Australia two straight series in a row on their soil wouldn’t have been possible without the ever gritty Cheteshwar Pujara. India’s No. 3 batsman may not have been able to burn up the charts as he did on the previous tour – scoring 521 runs from four Tests – but that doesn’t mean Pujara did not leave an impact. All three of his half-centuries in the series came at crucial junctures, the third one probably more important than the other two.
Pujara scored 56 in the second innings and kept India steady. En route to the slowest half-century of his Test career, Pujara endured 11 blows to the body. Yes, 11 – thrice on the helmet, once on the left bicep, thrice on the bottom glove on his right arm, and once on the chest, and some more. By the time, Pujara was on the flight, he had plenty of bruises on his body, but one that he wouldn’t mind for years to come. The batsman batted full of grit and determination, but there was a specific reason why he opted to take those body blows.
"I mostly got hit from one end and that too against (Pat) Cummins. There was this crack on the pitch around the short- of-length spot from where the ball would just take off. Cummins has the skill to make the ball rear up from there and make it follow you," Pujara was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
"In case I took my hand up to defend it, there was a risk that I would glove the ball. Considering the match situation and how we couldn’t afford to lose wickets, I decided to let the ball hit my body."
The telling blow was when one of the deliveries from Josh Hazlewood took off and caught Pujara flush on the glove on the right hand. Immediately upon impact, Pujara shook his hand in pain and threw the bat down. At that moment, the blow looked nasty as the physio checked on Pujara.
The camera panned to the batsman, which showed a grimace on Pujara’s pain as the physio held his arm. India were hoping to not let this be another one to the injury last. Thankfully for India and Pujara, the batsman was up ready to go, although Pujara admits to getting hurt. But such is the threshold of the 31-year-old that it wasn’t going to keep him down for long.
"It is tough to hold the bat, the grip was slightly loose. So you can’t hit the ball where you want to," he said. "From my early days, I am not in the habit of taking pain- killers. That’s why my threshold to bear pain is pretty high. You play for so long, you get used to getting hit."
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