'Without Cheteshwar Pujara, India would've lost to Australia 3-0': Former England opener Nick Compton
Cheteshwar Pujara scored 271 runs in the recently concluded four-match Test series against Australia, which although was the highest among Indian batsmen, doesn’t seem like the tally of a series-winning team’s best batsman. A look at the number of balls that Pujara faced to get those runs, however, paints an entirely different picture.
Pujara played out 928 balls and batted for hours, most of which against a hostile Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood that provided the likes of Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant the platform and assurance to bat in their natural way. While doing all this, Pujara also took several hits to the body, many of which he volunteered for, just to protect his wicket.
Hailing Pujara’s gallant effort, former England opener Nick Compton said India would have ended up losing the series 3-0 instead of wining it 2-1 if it wasn't for the No.3 batsman’s unmatchable patience and determination.
“Without Cheteshwar Pujara India would have lost 3-0. FACT! Don’t ever tell me batting balls for hours in test match cricket isn’t of priority,” Compton said while adding it is rubbish to talk about a player’s strike rate in Test cricket.
“The amount of rubbish I listen to and have listened to for how many years from reputable cricket people is just mind-blowing!” he added.
Compton’s comments were perhaps in response to the criticism Pujara received towards the early part of the series for scoring his then slowest Test fifty in Melbourne
The criticism, however, had little effect Pujara as the right-hander continued to display yogi-like patience in the middle for the next two Tests and in the process ended up being one of the silent heroes of India’s triumph.
“He himself said it, that in the last series he had tried to play a hook and he got out,” Pujara’s father Arvind told Hindustan Times in an interview. “The way this match was poised and the importance of the innings, he decided that whatever happens in this match, he will not play the hook and pull. That is why he took so many balls on the body. That’s his willpower.”
Cummins and Josh Hazlewood went on a bouncer barrage to Pujara in Brisbane. Pujara took all the blows; one bouncer broke his helmet. He was hit on the chest, the back, the ribs, and on the hand. “He got hit 11 times, but the main worry was on three balls, one the blow on the finger, second when he was hit near the neck and when the helmet broke. Those were dangerous,” Arvind said. “It felt like it could be a major injury. I thought, will he have to go to the hospital now? But when he started playing, I could relax.”
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