India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day

A partnership much like a holiday romance

There was a Test century to each man, M Vijay's second, Cheteshwar Pujara's fourth and India hoofed across the Australian first innings total. At stumps, India were 311 for 1, ahead of Australia by 74

Sharda Ugra

March 3, 2013

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara leave the field during the tea break, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 2nd day, March 3, 2013
Even though M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara started slow in the first session, they completed their centuries as the second new ball neared after tea © BCCI
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Put M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara alongside each other wearing anything other than cricket whites or training gear and they will have little in common.

Ask them to talk to each other in the language they speak at home and incomprehensibility will rule. There's a very good chance they do not share, leave alone friends, the same taste in food, music, lifestyle or even favourite cricket shots.

What Vijay and Pujara did share on day two in Hyderabad, however, was the ability to sing in perfect sync from the same cricketing sheet. They began with a low sonorous bass all through the first session, but by the time the second new ball was due an hour before stumps, they had hit the high notes.

There was a Test century to each man, Vijay's second, Pujara's fourth and India hoofed across the Australian first innings total. At stumps, India were 311 for 1, ahead of Australia by 74.

A day that began with a session whose scoreline read 49 for 1 in 27 overs, and looked like it was in Australia's favour, was snatched away with India scoring 257 runs in 63 overs after lunch without losing a wicket.

There were two remarkable aspects of Vijay and Pujara's unbeaten 294-run second-wicket partnership. The first was Vijay's ability to meld his batting into a manner of play that, for the better part of two hours, could have belonged to Pujara. The other was Pujara's willingness to absorb, from very early in the day, pain from an injury in his left leg and then spend nearly six hours more at the crease, at times limping and hobbling and diving full length into his crease to ensure he wouldn't lose out on a morning of labour.

The final session of play, when both men completed their centuries as the second new ball neared, generated crowd-pleasing shots. Freebies were gobbled up and 151 runs scored in 30 overs with Australia's bowling looking tattered and mentally frayed. But the foundation of the partnership and indeed its signature, was laid in the first session when the Australian seamers charged in and Vijay and Pujara were willing to grind and defend.

The two strains of effort from Vijay and Pujara have gone to produce one of India's more carefully-structured days of Test cricket in recent years. What is important is that India's innings was not shepherded by a seasoned hand, but batsmen who have played 23 Tests between them.

In the last ten years, recent memory says that India have seen off a tough first session and cashed after lunch only twice. In the Boxing Day Test of 2003-04, Virender Sehwag and Aakash Chopra scored 26 runs off the first 16 overs, went in to lunch at 89 for 0 in 27 overs and India finished the day at 329 for 4.

Six years later, India were 92 for 0 in 18 overs against Sri Lanka in Mumbai at lunch, and followed the next two sessions with 260 for 1 at tea and 443 for 1 by stumps. Sehwag again was the central reason for India's rapid acceleration. By sheer coincidence, his partner in Mumbai happened to be Vijay.

On Sunday, much was in Vijay and Pujara's favour in Hyderabad. They were batting at home, Australia's first innings total - 237 for 9 declared - was miserly and the lateral movement off the wicket was not lethal. What they had to handle though was the early loss of Sehwag, a bowling attack that was fresh, keen and disciplined, and the early morning help for the seamers. By the time the first hour of play was done, India had scored only 26 more runs in the 13 overs bowled in the morning.

Michael Clarke had cut off the single-scoring opportunities, negated the drop-and-run with men at short cover and short midwicket and stuck David Warner in at mid-off to put doubt into the mind of a batsman trying to take the straight, sober single. The batsmen were being challenged to hit corkscrewing shots into the air.

Vijay and Pujara knew this was not the time to hurry. There were no planes, trains or automobiles to be caught. While Pujara, by and large, is neither hurried or lured, it was Vijay, the gung-ho, big hitting opener, who discovered that playing early monk could help.

He got behind the line and defended stoutly on his front foot, swayed away from the short ball and when it followed him, jabbed it down. This is Vijay's comeback series and his hometown Chennai had given him little joy with scores of 10 and 6, dismissed in both innings by James Pattinson.

Hyderabad would have brought some manner of epiphany - he faced 10 overs from Pattinson, scored only 14 runs, but dug out the 140kph yorkers and got out of the way of the beastlier of the short balls.

Pujara, a quiet well-spoken 25-year-old, can be an utter gourmand when it comes to big runs. He has scored them by the bucketful in domestic cricket, knows how to pace an innings in Indian conditions and loves converting scores just like he enjoys consuming runs. Of his five 50 plus scores in Test cricket, Pujara's tally reads, 72, 159, 206*, 135 and now 162 not out. Vijay gave enough glimpses of power and aggression in his innings of 129. But on a day when alter-egos found expression, it was Pujara who hooked Peter Siddle for a six off the second new ball to reach his 150.

Cricketing partnerships can often end up like holiday romances: intense, memorable but transient. India must wish that Hyderabad 2013 is only the start of a beautiful friendship between the two batsmen who have given India all the controls of this Test.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Sam_Sinister on (March 4, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

Unnecessary article specially involving Murali Vijay and for worse comparing him with Pujara and calling this inception of their friendship. Please ESPNCricinfo don't down your standards. Murali Vijay is a nothing players of full too attitude and got backing from God knows who in BCCI. He sets a bad examples whenever he plays in any form of Cricket and there is Pujara who is humble and a crack of shot maker. We all have seen what good Murali did yesterday while not taking those 2s and 3s. and also do not praise him too much...we have seen in past too he would never be a up to the mark player or human.

Posted by ShyamSunderVyas on (March 4, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

The title of the post, and the first few paragraphs promised that this would be a very poetic kind of article. It could have been, if the writer would have not included stats, and just would have let the pen flow. There are many batting innings in test matches, but only some are considered worthy of being termed as classic. This article could have been one.

Posted by D.Pramod on (March 4, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

Vijay and Pujara certainly played well and made full use of the luck presented them, but if you had seen their calling and running between the wickets, Pujara's overenthusiastic running and Vijay's poor calling, you would think twice before calling their partnership, "sing in perfect sync".

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (March 4, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

Auatralia in 1998 under Tendulkar. The same chaps rose in droves calling for Rahul.s head. He was an intelligent young man. He made adjustments and went back in 2004 DownUnder. He showed what greatness was all about against the best that Australia could throw at him. Then like Gavaskar Dravid grew to his full stature. The point is that we should wait an watch a great in contd..ing not pull him down. Some havethe ability to rise above these criticisms. Others do not. that is the sorrow. I remember Sanjay Manjrekar was seen as the next great after gavaskar from the Bombay stable. Then he went to Australia and did not do as well as expected. The critics were back in business and he just failed to make adjustments that were needed. He could have been a great from India but thanks to venomous reporting, he just whithered away. I wish we would croticise by pointing out mistakes. I would like Pujara and Kohli to go early to South Africa this winter. That could be a great move.

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (March 4, 2013, 8:01 GMT)

I cannot understand so much of debate to try and pull down someone who shows qualities of becoming a great like Pujara looks like becoming one day. As nyc_missile rightly said we have to see whether the new batsman has certain parameters which point to him being likely to do well on bouncy wickets. If he does then we should wait and watch. Once in South Africa, it is also possible that Steyn gets him on a couple of occasions. That does not reduce him to a padded bundle because Steyn is not a after dinner pie thrower. He is a champion. Probably the greatest ever fast bowler.When Gavaskar scored 774 in 4 tests in West Indies in 1971, most people knew that he was destined for greatness. Then there was a long lean patcg till 1974.That was when such critics rose like lilliputs. Till he hit that great hundred on a green top against Snow and Price in England. The prophets of doom felt humiliated. Simlarly, after a great start in England and South Africa, Dravid failed on his first visit to...

Posted by nyc_missile on (March 4, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

To doubters of Pujara,the only fact that he hasn't played abroad does not mean that he will invariably fail there! You look at some traits in a player;like a pull/hook shot or a spanking square cut..to assess and judge whether he will succeed overseas or not.Pujara has all the above and temperament to match them.So most certainly he will flourish in SA.Fact that he had collared Eng spinners in A'bad & Mumbai on a mine-field with aggressive foot-work means he is just a rounded player.Hopefully he is the next Dravid in the making.He may not be as pleasing on the eye as Dravid was but surely got his class..

Posted by McGorium on (March 4, 2013, 5:39 GMT)

@Rumy: You contradict yourself. If you claim that you have to deliver on day one in International cricket instead of learning on the job, Bajji shouldn't be in the team to begin with. by your own admission, he was 10% at Bombay, vs. England. Why should India select a 10% bowler, who is 10% despite being out of the side for over a year, and has been playing Ranji without anything outstanding? With the amount of experience Bajji has, he should be the leader of the pack. he isnt, not even close. jadeja seems to be more likely to get wickets than him. Form might be temporary, but an extended loss of form is no different from the lack of class. When Bajji is at 75%, he can be picked. If not (he's not even 50%), he should stay out.

Posted by nyc_missile on (March 4, 2013, 5:10 GMT)

@anonymous Fair point but at least Pujara has the temparement and technique to survive in SA.I wouldnt put beyond him to come up with similar innings especially if you consider he succeeded against a far superior Eng side than the current Oz one on not-so Indian pitches last year.

As for Dhoni,surprised? Please remember that I only meant it in context of tests and not ODIs.He's just an awfully 'lucky' captain to still be the test captain.No body in the history of Ind cricket has survived 2 disgraceful whitewashes abroad and a humiliating home series loss..W/O Srinivasan around,he would have been history by now as test captain.Moreover my biggest problem with him is knack of killing genuine talents(Rahane,Tiwary,Rayudu,Ojha,Sreesanth etc) and grooming mediocre players for obvious reasons.So as long as Dhoni stays test captain,we will suffer long term reversal notwithstanding a few wins at home against average teams.Because even at home,quality oppn Eng showed us up

Posted by McGorium on (March 4, 2013, 5:01 GMT)

@Rumy: You're remind me of the curious emotion that creates stock-market bubbles; Alan Greenspan called it irrational exuberance. Bajji is 10% in Bombay, 50% in Madras, therefore, the extrapolation would suggest that he'd be more than 150% by the time the series ends? If only things worked that way; we'd all be millionaires. Bajji barely managed to pick wickets on a pitch that turned square, against a team that couldn't play spin. At hyd, the only top-order wicket he got was off a long-hop. And if that was his 50%, his 50% wasn't anywhere near Ashwin. If guile and flight is naturally endowed, and cannot be learned, as you suggest, I wonder where it has disappeared. I'd also remind you that Kumble was a fast bowler when he started out, and initially bowled legspin as one, but you don't seem one who's swayed by data. As for me, I'd go with a bowler who took more than 10 wickets, mostly top-order, on a helpful pitch, than one who got a few tail-end wickets on the same pitch.

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (March 4, 2013, 4:44 GMT)

A good backfoot player is the one who plays the shot he intends to with his body weight on the back foot as opposed to playing with the weight on the front foot like one needs to be in a front foot cover drive. A good back foot player is one who naturally goes on to his backfoot in playing a shot as often as he can.Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are natural and excellent back foot players. It will be seen that even when they play the hook, they move onto the front foot first then to the back foot from where they play the shot. Most Australians play that way. Pujara is a natural back foot player. He does not have to display his back foot prowess abroad to earn that tag. Geoff Boycott said the same about him. On Australian and South African wickets it pays to be a good backfoot player because of the bouncy wickets. On such wickets the good length balls rise upto the chest sometimes. What is non negotiable is a good defence of either foot. Without that you cannot succeeed anywhere.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 3:43 GMT)

I dont know if these comments made by a genuine cricket fan or a people who on a Sunday, watched the TV half dozed with their short pants and t shirts on! It was an excellent application by these two young talents. If you don't like just leave him aside and comment on only the players you like. If you are so concerned you all people who comment pl get your cricket wardrobe and get on the field to at least face one delivery from James Pattinson. Kudos to Vijay and Pujara for their excellent application. All the best Team India.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 3:15 GMT)

@nyc_missile

I think it is too early to say Pujara will be successful overseas. I think he will struggle against likes of Steyn in SA. That will be his real test. Lets see how he performs. I am also suprised by this Dhoni bashing. He has won 2 world cups and has just now scored a 200. It is wrong to say that he 'undermines' people because of leadership qualities. I am sure people will say the same about Ganguly or Azhar.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 2:07 GMT)

Well, they have passed the India test...hope they produce the same results on wickets in SA, AUS and NZ..and our bowling does look encouraging...we have Umesh returning from injury, a workhorse in Ishant and B Kumar and a decent swing bowler in IK Pathan...and Shami Ahmed waiting in the wings...

Am not going hunky dowry on the team based on this series but the future does look encouraging.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (March 4, 2013, 1:33 GMT)

I haven't seen much of Pujara but he was very impressive. His figures comparing him with three of India's greatest after their first 18 visits to the crease each:

PUJARA - four tons 206*, 162*, 159, and 135 - plus a 72.

TENDULKAR - one ton 119* - plus 88, 68, 59, and 57.

DRAVID - one ton 148 - plus 95, 84, 81, 56, and 51*.

GAVASKAR - four tons - 220, 124, 117*, and 116 - plus 67, 65, 64*, 57, and 53.

This shows how good Pujara is going and full credit to him. Our younger batsman(i.e Warner, Khawaja, Hughes) can learn alot from him in terms of conversion. In the case of Khawaja he hasn't had his chances but i see him and Hughes as the guys for us who can develop this ability to convert.

Posted by Ranjit_sourav on (March 4, 2013, 1:09 GMT)

sensational batting display from both Vijay and Pujara, As all know we are good in home conditions, but scoring a big 100 and staying right through the day is not that easy even on flat tracks. Kudos to both. Both has different style of approach, playing each ball on its merit. I think, If Pujara can work up on his back foot play, He would tackle Steyn,Philander and co when India tour overseas. Lets see how these youngsters going to perform there.Also not to mention this new look Aussies, Apart from Clark and Pattinson, No one is that near compared to the current English side. I think England will take the Ashes this time for sure.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 0:36 GMT)

I hope that Vijay and Pujar break the all-time 2nd wicket partnership of all time between Gavaskar and Vengsarkar. Gavaskar was the luckiest cricket of all time - play and miss until the ball hits the bat!!!! A little mischief here - if not for Gavaskar, Kapil, Ganguly, Laxman, Srikkanth, the 4 spinners, Indian cricket would not be where it is today. Tendulkar and Sehwag are completely overrate by the way.

Posted by Rumy1 on (March 4, 2013, 0:01 GMT)

How about this team for next two Tests:

Jaffer, Vijay, Pujara (if fit), Sachin, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Bhuvanesh, Harbhajan, Umesh/Ishwar, Ojha

Posted by Rumy1 on (March 3, 2013, 23:52 GMT)

@usernames / @McGorium: Why does Bhajji 32 merit a place in XI?Because Ashwin has limited variety in his offspinners His carrom ball doesn't have the novelty value anymore.His line and length wavers to the extent that he had a bowling figure with highest runs ever given by any Indian bowler in Eng series.Secondly,even half in form Bhajji is much better than a full in form Ashwin due to the guile and control that Bhaji has over his craft.Well if Ashwin is new and is learning then Test cricket is not a learning ground.For that he needs to be in Ranji matches/in the nets. In international Test cricket you have to be ready to deliver on day one else the nation will bear the cost of your non-readiness and incompetence.As far as Bhajji is concerned,form is temporary and class is permanent.Nobody in last fifteen years can say that international batsmen had sorted Bhajji out.Bhajji kept on evolving and his craft kept on refining.Now is the time for team to reap from his fine craft/experience.

Posted by usernames on (March 3, 2013, 21:49 GMT)

And, if we are looking at the multiple overseas series we have in 2013-2014, we need to start blooding the likes of Bhuvneshwar, Shami, Ishwar, et al. for a bit more consistency, since we are anyways not going to perform too well against Steyn & co. as well as Anderson and the likes.

It won't happen, of course, but that's the only way to even give ourselves an outside chance. We are too focused on our batsmen; they aren't like Pakistan, they will score ~150-200 in most cases, probably more if Pujara and Rahane (good lord, will he get a chance?!) can stick around. Our bowlers are far, far, far more important.

Bhuvneshwar has very good control, and decent pace, too, so he can be an attacking option. I'd pay good money to watch a pace attack of Bhuvneshwar, Umesh, and Shami in South Africa. :D

Posted by usernames on (March 3, 2013, 21:42 GMT)

Having said that, if there's one thing I can't fathom, it's how people like Rumy1 keep backing Harbhajan even after so many failures. He has better control as compared to Ashwin, yes, but then, he has 15 years of experience! What do you expect from a 15 year old veteran?

Ashwin is still in a stage where he's learning but even then, he takes more wickets, bowls more wicket taking deliveries even though he errs in line and length more often than Bhaj does. Harbhajan simply doesn't have the incisiveness in his bowling right now, as you can see from his Ranji records, too. Can he get it back? Perhaps. But, for that, international cricket isn't the platform: he needs to go back to Ranji, or his coaches, and work on his bowling. We mustn't serve these spots in the XI on a silver platter -- let these guys earn it.

Based on pure performance, the best Indian XI in India would be:

Vijay, Mukund/Dhawan/Gambhir, Pujara, Tendulkar, Rahane, Kohli, Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja/Shami/Ishwar, Bhuv, Ojha.

Posted by TRAM on (March 3, 2013, 21:41 GMT)

I wouldn't compare Vijay with any middle order batsmen as many here are doing. Let the "oldball-players" (=middle order batsmen) prove that they can open the innings against Styn/Pattinson /Malinga etc. Including SRT/Dravid, those old-ball players hide from facing the deadliest conditions of any batsman viz., 1. Unknown pitch & conditions and hence unknown behaviour of ball 2. Unknown bowler's skill and 3. sheer highest energy levels of pace/swing/seam blwoing. 4. Openers have to bat with no rest after the opponents finished their batting. So, IMO, a opening batsman's 50 has double the skill required than a middle order batsman scoring 50 runs. Having said that, I cant accept the poor fielders such as sehwag in the team, however much i love their aggressive batting.

Posted by usernames on (March 3, 2013, 21:36 GMT)

Excellent innings by both of these. Congratulations, especially, to Vijay. He looks fantastic when he gets going, and although I'm not a big fan of his, I'd be more than happy if he can be a tad more consistent. His concentration today, as well as run scoring, was exemplary, the ordinary bowling notwithstanding.

One thing, though, is that I'm missing the usual Australian bowling. I mean, this is getting into the boring territory now, and that's never the case with an Australian team. Save perhaps Lyon, most of these spinners won't make it to a Ranji team -- why not just get your best here, and give it all you can? Everyone would appreciate a good content; right now, it just seems like Australia isn't trying as hard as they could.

We can, of course, get over the moon right now, but the fact of the matter is that India isn't a very good Test team just yet. We need a better opening pair, and a more incisive pace attack, for a start. :)

Posted by aryan-is-dravid-fan on (March 3, 2013, 21:23 GMT)

@Dravid_Gravitas : You may be jumping the gun a bit by saying that Pujara is a better version of Dravid. We all wish he is what you say he is, but he has a long way to prove he can be half as successful and useful to Indian cricket as the original wall. Pujara has yet to be tested away from home in many different conditions, he needs to stay fit forever like Dravid and the sample size of his exploits is very small.

I do appreciate and share your concern for his knee and fitness. Looking forward to more and more of Pujara.

Posted by nyc_missile on (March 3, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

Beautiful ,soothing piece of writing by Sharda! Yes,Pujara though treated miserably by stupid Dhoni for ODIs has not lost the hunger or the passion to bat.This man is the anchor for this team,not sure Vijay would have scored 100 if not for Pujara's calming presence at the crease.Though stylish I would consider Vijay a mediocre talent,he will be exposed brutally abroad.Pujara is in a different league altogether.Hope the paranoid schemer Dhoni does not see enough leadership qualities in Pujara to undermine him yet..Sehwag if not pushed down the order doesn't deserve a place in the side with class-less Vijay scoring at-least on feather beds at home.Rahane now surely should be given a go as he's been around much longer than Dhawan on the bench.For now,in India Dhoni can get away with any team but the real test for him is in SA which he will certainly fail as 0-8 still stares in my face at-least..

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 20:12 GMT)

Easily one of the BEST partnerships I have ever seen in test cricket. This is why test cricket is so enjoyable. You get to see all sorts of drama played up front with the timidity and subtle approach in session one. Then, the blades are unleashed for a flamboyant and adventurous sessions 2. The rest of the day continued along the same lines. I am sure both of these players will score even more on day 3 and put the game beyond Australia's reach. Pujara is the perfect no.3 batsman. He has the patience, virtue, and style to play a long innings. Vijay on the other hand is a perfect example of how an aggressive player can curb his instincts and play the mature innings putting his team's goals in perspective. Who said winning the toss is crucial ? Australia didn't do any justice by scoring 237 odd on day one. No matter where you play, you can't win many test matches once your first innings ends by day one.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 19:16 GMT)

Would love to see twin double hundreds tomorrow...not sure that has happened in an Indian Innings earlier....Grind Them Down....VJ & CP.....

Posted by Nampally on (March 3, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

@McGorium: Well said, Sir. I agree fully re: Bhaji Vs. Ashwin comments. I also feel that Ojha being dropped after being the best Indian spinner Vs. England with 20 Wkts. is huge black mark on Dhoni. If India needs 2 spinners as bowlers, they are still Ashwin & Ojha. On Hyderabad Wkt. these 2 got 18 out of 20 Wkts. in the recent test match vs. NZ. I had mentioned before, Dhoni is Indian Cricket's 007- Licenced to bench anyone he does not like. Ojha was benched in many tests before by MSD. Pujara was recently benched in 3 ODI's with a Test batting average of 87 vs. the same England - minus Anderson, Swann & Pujara. So no one can question 007!

Posted by QingdaoXI on (March 3, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

It is not good know that after this series we will directly playing the test series in South Africa at the end of the year and when we arrive there our batsmen will be out of touch becuase of lack of test cricket to them for atleast 9 months, so i kindly request BCCI to arrange the two test series before we play South Africa in South Africa, First series of 2 test vs Zim in Zim, just to know more about the african conditions to our young batsmen and bowlers or may be have feel of the pitches before the real test start vs SA. 2. Instead of playing 7 ODIs vs Aus in October Play traingular series with having SA in as SA too dont have many series this year and than try to accomodate 3 test vs SA as SA last tour Ind in 2010 and will be coming for next at the end of 2015, If we invite SA to play 3 test series before there home series, it will also help our players to know more about the SA team and Plan Well before that series and will give our batsmen to play 5 more test before that series.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (March 3, 2013, 18:55 GMT)

If we watch Pujara's innings closely, there is a lot of similarity with the way Dravid bats. Buckle down initially as per the match situation. During this process he gets a hang of the bowlers, the way the pitch is behaving, the situation of the team etc. This is also the phase when the bowlers gradually wear down. He then opens up at the opportune moment and puts his foot firmly on the TIRED bowlers' necks and the bowlers cease to exist in the match. Absolutely Dravidesque construction of an inning! The MOST SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE between Dravid and Pujara, thus far, is, Pujara seems to have a better conversion rate of his half-centuries. Dravid has an impeccable back-foot play. I would be very interested to see how Pujara does on that front on overseas tours. The other CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE is, Dravid took extreme care of his fitness. Pujara loses to Dravid on that front. Managing Pujara's knee with the BEST MEDICAL HELP should be the TOPMOST priority of his family and BCCI.

Posted by yoohoo on (March 3, 2013, 18:54 GMT)

@rustyryan - that is a know chapter of pujara's growth as a batsman. He had a weakness for the hook shot, which he feels very confident about. But playing in SA he should have avoided it. There is an interview of his where he talks about it, and the discussion he had with dravid about it. That is why he did not hook anything today at all until he reached 140s. He reached 150 with a hooked six. Sorry mate but he was not a walking wicket for anybody ever.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

Dravid _gravitas = so much reading , so much thinking, so much duscusing over the year and year u have wrote very greatly about Pujara i saw how u looked in to Pujara during his batting i am impressed the way u wrote first time i salute someone i liked in this comments wow word batter virson of Rahul the great i always loved him and other word i like is " Cheteswar ' Rahul Dravid ' Pujara".......god bless u and our new born Dravid.....

Posted by Rahul_78 on (March 3, 2013, 18:18 GMT)

Want to question MSD and Fletchers wisdom of making Pujara field at forward short leg. He is known for his chronic knee trouble. He looks the only player from the current lot who can stand his ground overseas in UK and S.Africa. Needs to be protected, preserved and well lookedafter.

Posted by brandy80 on (March 3, 2013, 18:17 GMT)

Beautiful piece. It is writing like this that makes Cricinfo great

Posted by Rumy1 on (March 3, 2013, 18:07 GMT)

@McGorium:Bhajji a spent force??What are you talking of?He looked deadly in 1st innings and that too when he wasn't even 50% of his rhythm.Heartening sign is that Bhajji was 10% in Mumbai against England and he has improved to say 50% now.As this Test progresses and if Dhoni adequately bowls him,he will grow in confidence and should be at his very best in Mohali. The point is either you have it in you or you do not.Either you know car driving or you don't. Ashwin just doesn't have that guile,variation and class in his off spinners as Bhajii or Swann or Ajmal have.Most international batsmen have sorted him out. As west indies series progressed likes of Chandrpaul/ Bravo sorted him out.By the time NZ series was midway likes of Taylor had sorted him out. By the end of second England Test likes of Cook/Trott/ Pieterson had sorted him out. In fact he went wicketless in later part of that series and he leaked runs galore.Even in Hyd yesterday,Dhoni had to take him out as he was leaking runs

Posted by McGorium on (March 3, 2013, 17:32 GMT)

@Rumy1: It's plainly obvious, your vehement assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, that Harbhajan Singh is a spent force. Ashwin has a long way to go, but he's a good 7-8 years younger than Bajji. At the age Bajji is today, Kumble was at the peak of his powers, bowling well not only in India, but crucially, even in Australia. Bajji struggled to pick wickets on a pitch that was turning square in Madras, and in this test, got Wade off a long-hop, and got a tailender. Jadeja's wickets,esp henriques and maxwell, had more quality, which is suggestive. If India go with 2 spinners, I would pick Ojha over Bajji. He's in the side only because of his aura with the aussies from campaigns past. And maybe his 100th test. Regardless, he sends down absolute filth these days. Ashwin is far better than Bajji at the moment, even if he isn't the greatest offie around in the game.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (March 3, 2013, 17:25 GMT)

Ugra, I was very saddened to see Pujara limping. His knee injury reared its ugly head again. Had to take my hat off to him - he injured that knee again on day1 while fielding, injured it again while batting and then dived to get back to his crease, in the process hurting his knee more - any better indicator of how much he values his wicket? We are indeed blessed to have him in our ranks, a better version of Dravid, if I may say so. I SINCERELY HOPE his anterior cruciate ligament problem gets treated expertly and permanently. I'm very very worried about his knee. This particular inning of Pujara will be very dear to me - a limping Pujara diving to save his wicket and going on to score 150+, so far. Yes, he is our newer and better version of Rahul Sharad Dravid. Modern Indian Cricket has three eras - Pre-Dravid, Dravid and Post-Dravid. Post-Dravid era can now be safely rephrased as Pujara Era. Take a bow Cheteshwar 'Rahul Dravid' Pujara! I now have a reason to follow Indian Cricket.

Posted by Leggie on (March 3, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

I see lots of debates being triggered already if Vijay or Pujara would be good enough in South Africa. Well, it's still some time to go, and if at all these two are to succeed in SA, they need to have runs under their belt and there is no better place to get runs than in their familiar territory against an international opposition. For the sheer temperament that they exhibited today, let's give them both their due credit. Remember that it's in this same track that another international team was bundled out (almost) for 239 just the earlier day.

Posted by chrisinfidel on (March 3, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

I remember the Classic Calcutta Test Match, way back in 2001 around similar period around the year, against the same opponent, Dravid and Laxman rescued India from a innings defeat and sailed through a partnership that made history. India, went on to win the Test match and also the series later. The partnership was a epic in many ways, It gave Indian cricket a New found confidence and revolutionized the way in which India played Test cricket. It was the beginning of generation Great Batsmen like Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Gambhir and the team traveled across the world with a hunger for victory. Following debacles in England, Down under and at Home, Indian Cricket is down at the bottom. We have seen Egoistic frictions within the time, loss of form and retirement of Great Batsmen, that has nailed the foundation of the side. But, today after watching Vijay and Pujara bat this way, it recalled the famous Calcutta test match. May be this partnership could change Indian Cricket forever.

Posted by RamRamSatyaRam on (March 3, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Great job by both openers, Pujara in particular. Despite that injured knee he never looked out of place. And for once, Vijay was able to suppress his aggressive nature and play a seasoned Test knock. Sehwag probably needs to go, it's a wonder he's stayed along for so long (he should have been dumped from the onset instead of Gambhir.) Let's give Dhawan, Mukund, or Rahane a shot. Not so sure about Jaffer, he is old and has let his chances come and go.

Posted by RamRamSatyaRam on (March 3, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

Great job by both openers, Pujara in particular. Despite that injured knee he never looked out of place. And for once, Vijay was able to suppress his aggressive nature and play a seasoned Test knock. Sehwag probably needs to go, it's a wonder he's stayed along for so long (he should have been dumped from the onset instead of Gambhir.) Let's give Dhawan, Mukund, or Rahane a shot. Not so sure about Jaffer, he is old and has let his chances come and go.

Posted by Marif4 on (March 3, 2013, 16:57 GMT)

Really dominating innings by Indians, Pujara, he always comes to stay on the ground, very good commitment shown by him, being injured, he did a very good job, on the other hand Murli did a fantastic job, in fact i am not a fan of him but he impressed me a lot.

Now i expect India to make more than 500 runs & destroy the moral of Autralian team.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

@Sir.Ivor,

Atleast get the facts right. Pujara's 19 and 10 came at Durban which India won and not Capetown which was a drawn match. Also Sachin didn't get 146 in Durban it was in Capetown the 3rd test

Posted by Rumy1 on (March 3, 2013, 16:38 GMT)

Sharda's views on cricket is usually way off and so is now.Her positivism ignores the reality that both Aussie spinners were below level of even club cricket standards.And on a dead as a dodo track of Hyderabad with zero swing,Siddle and Pattinson looked an Ishant or Dinda i.e. akin to Ranji level bowlers.But I wouldn't take anything away from atleast Pujara.He was class apart and is India's best batsman at the moment by yards.Likes of Kohli and Rahane will have to do some work to reach Pujara's class.I rate Pujara one of the top five Test batsmen.Vijay is still susceptible against rising fast just outside the off stump cherry.He is in the league of say Raina or Gambhir.Let's see how he fares in Mohali and wish him loads of luck.I stll maintain Ashwin is an average offie and he is not in the league of Bhajji.Any Ranji level offie on a deteriorating track like Chennai could have got lucky as Ashwin got.Bhajji showed class in Hyderabd.Wish justice was done with Ojha by replacing Jadeja.

Posted by Rumy1 on (March 3, 2013, 16:19 GMT)

I love the way Pujara paces his innings. He has the right technique, all the shots in the book and a matching temperament to succeed at the highest levels against the best of pace attacks. Wish him all future success. No doubt Australia's spin attack was below average and their pace attack was neutralised by the dead Hyderabad pitch but Pujara was exceptional in his chanceless innings. Vijay's innings would have ended at 71 had Clarke grabbed an easy catch in slips. Vijay's application was commendable though. However, to somebody who understands cricket, he looked susceptible everytime Siddle and Pattinson bowled full just outside off stump and especially when the ball gained height. Vijay will have to sought this out before Mohali Test - if he could. I have watched him over the years and this glaring flaw in his technique remains to be sorted out. That is why clever bowlers have been sorting him out especially when the ball is new or pace friendly conditions exist in domestic cricket.

Posted by pratik622 on (March 3, 2013, 16:14 GMT)

@rusty. When mitchell johnson got pujara out in his debut innnings, he was batting on zero and johnson bowled a short ball. The ball stayed ridiculously low and hit pujara on the toe (lbw out). In his next innings in his debut test, he made 72 runs on a day 5 pitch to win India the game. In south africa he got 2 test matches and played well but just couldn't get a big score. But i feel he is the real deal for test cricket and will do well in SA 2013.

Posted by Match_Ref on (March 3, 2013, 16:05 GMT)

Is it just me or do others also find Ms Ugra's articles littered with tongue-twisting nouns/verbs and grammar !

The article forced me back to the school days more than the cricket !!!

Posted by bumsonseats on (March 3, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

cefax in the UK are running a story that a pakistani leg spinner is been fast tracked into the team for the ashes. what next a 2/3 indian batters to do the same. at least our so called united 11 team will have a similar pact in oz.well i never

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (March 3, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

Rustyryan. I would like to mention that Pujara played 3 innings in the 2 tests that he played against South Africa in 2010/11.In the Cape Town test which India won he batted for one hour in tough batting conditions against a rampaging Steyn in the first innings. He may have scored just 19 but he gave solid support tO Tendulkar in scoring 146 which set up the Indian victory.Un the second innings toothough he scored just 10 runs he gave Laxman who scored 96. Pujara batted for an hour and a half. Barring Laxman's innings there was very little from any one else.Sehwag scored 32 made of many edged fours.In the other Test Pujara played only one innings.India were on the verge of winning that game as well when rain and bad light put an end to that test match.The point to remembered in assessing a batsman is his temperament.That I think is excellent.He plays the ball late and has all the strokes around a solid defence of either foot.He is good back foot player A humble soul who will go far.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Comparing batting partnership with romance? Please. I will watch Yash Chopra movies if I want to hear cheesy lines. I visit cricinfo for pure cricketing analysis.

Posted by Vivek_Singh3089 on (March 3, 2013, 15:45 GMT)

The case with the Pujara is that whenever he comes to bat..he gives an impression that he's going to score big....he's a perfect test batsman & with his aggressive strokeplay he can be handy for us even in ODI's also.. .......

Posted by Dhanno on (March 3, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

@rusty. Steyn got pujara once in SA tests. That ball is described as "Shane warne at 134 kmh" on cricinfo. Something which would have taken most batsman out. Other two instances he was out to Morkel/Tsotobe, and those were in the test where no one crossed 50 in whole game (except Very very special laxman). If Saffas folded to 131 and 208 to indian bowling, you have to give the kid credit if he fell to morkel/tsotobe or even appeared as a "walking wicket in front of Steyn".

I agree he has still some way to go, but you cant pin it against him. I would not club Pujara with Vijay, given the evidence I would say Pujara is better equipped for overseas conditions. He will have to prove it in SA later this year and that would be inarguably against the best bowling unit in conditions which suit them.

Posted by anilkp on (March 3, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

Sharda, this is one of the very few articles of yours that boast positivism. Generally, I do not like your articles for their overwhelmingly depressing tone of negativism, sarcasm, ridicule and bitterness. I know that any incidence can have both negative and positive sides, and that negative sides should also be looked at, and that you are just doing your job of bringing out the negativism while others focus on the simpler job of writing about what looks pretty. If that is the case, I know that your job is tougher than others. Nevertheless, I would appreciate a more somber, logical, positive outlook in your future articles.

Posted by Nppinte on (March 3, 2013, 15:39 GMT)

Good knocks by both- hope they carry on. It was a relief for me to see Vijay defending again. His game when he first played cricket was characterized by a solid defense, knowing where his off stump is, a very still head and calmness against the short ball. Aakash Chopra insightfully pointed out in his article on openers that the IPL changed his game to the "big hitter" people now know him as. That was never his natural game. A stop start career as Laxman mentioned has not helped either. It must have been frustrating for Mr Monk to score well and loose his spot in the next test. Great to see him rediscover himself. As long as Vijay maintains those 4 basics there is no reason why he shouldn't be atleast as successful as Trescothick was as a test opener in swinging conditions. And Pujara- all that remains is the overseas test that he will ace. While comparisons with Dravid are premature, the calmness he brings to the crease contrasts sometimes with Dravid's instensity.

Posted by sri1ram on (March 3, 2013, 15:37 GMT)

Maybe, just maybe, Sehwag should come two down or one down, if at all he is persisted with. He has been a successful opener, but perhaps given a chance down the order, he may perform better. Just a thought.

Posted by rajattiwaari on (March 3, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

Despite his hundred 100 today,I am convinced that Murali Vijay is not the answer for India's opening worries. and everybody who saw vijay play against SA(both home and away) and on WI tour will agree with me . Yes some of his shots are pleasing to eyes but his batting technique is not good enough to counter quality fast bowlers that teams like SA,AUS,ENG and PAK have got.

Posted by RajitD on (March 3, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

Virtuoso performance by the two. And a day of domination!

Posted by rustyryan on (March 3, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

@Sitanshu. You're partially wrong. In fact Pujara struggled to make an impact in SA pitches. Also he is yet to be tested against sheer pace.I remember Mitch got him out in his debut innings. He was a walking wicket of Steyn when India toured SA. And as far as Vijay, he deserves extended run as he seems to be somewhat better fit for Viru's place. Vijay is flamboyant and may not be technically sound but given a fair bit of confidence he can become that aggressive opener- sort of Viru, Dilshan style. Both of them are not tech good and yet they gave some pretty good starts. You dont get Dravids too often mate. Nevertheless too soon to conclude. But right now, there seems to be light at the tunnel after all.

Posted by Dhanno on (March 3, 2013, 14:46 GMT)

Assured innings by both. Although I like one and not particularly other, have to admit they played very well together. I watched the first session, only 49 runs on display but the fact that Vijay could keep himself grounded (there were couple of flashes of blade, but they went over slips etc) and Pujara did what he does the best. That dodgy knee worries me, I hope Pujara has not aggravated the injury by staying on whole day. It will be shame to lose him for any length of time, let alone in a test series of such importance.

Another thing that comes to fore is Pujara's class. He had couple of lean games at the end of england series (and india invariably suffered). Here is a guy with whom we would expect big scores every time he walks out. Lot to ask for a fellow who is playing just 8-9th test but we have not seen a test prospect so good in last 10 years.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

Lets not get too optimistic. Pujara definitely seems to have the technique and the temperament to play in overseas conditions, but the same cannot said about Vijay. He has done the right things in this innings, so deserves an extended run. But that does not mean he should be a certainty for the openers slot. Let him prove his consistency.

Sehwag's position needs to be questioned now. Ideally give Dhawan/Rahane a chance, ask Gambhir and Sehwag to prove themselves again in first class cricket. If possible, county cricket. Also, ask Jiwanjot Singh to show consistency for another couple of seasons before selecting him.

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