India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 1st day November 23, 2012

Pujara conquers pitch challenge

There was more bounce and movement on offer for England's pace attack at the Wankhede Stadium, but Cheteshwar Pujara was up to the challenge

Cheteshwar Pujara's organised technique and his composure at the crease won him plenty of fans after his double-century in Ahmedabad, but when he walked out to bat after two balls of the Mumbai Test, the challenges he was presented with were far more severe. Firstly, unlike in Ahmedabad, when he walked in to bat at 134 for 1 in the 30th over, the openers here had given him no platform to build on.

Secondly, the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium had a lot more in it in terms of bounce and movement for the fast bowlers than the one at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, especially in the first session. England's fast bowlers, armed with the new ball, seemed suitably enthused by the pitch and the early breakthrough. Pujara's technique, though, held firm in the face of this examination.

As the graphic shows, the height at which the deliveries arrived when James Anderson and Stuart Broad were bowling to Pujara was significantly different in the two matches. In Ahmedabad (right half of the graphic), Pujara was able to comfortably tuck the fast bowlers away for singles and twos (depicted by the yellow balls). At the Wankhede, his defensive technique against the short ball was subjected to a stiffer test, but Pujara came out of it well, either fending with soft hands or weaving out of the way. Once he also tapped a short one from Broad over the slips for four, showing fine presence of mind and an ability to keep the score moving no matter what length was bowled to him.

In all, Pujara scored 47 of his 114 runs off Anderson and Broad, and he did it in mostly orthodox fashion - keeping the good balls out with sound technique, and making the bowlers pay when they erred in length. His overall scoring rate against pace was 3.17 runs per over, which was much quicker than his rate against spin (2.11). His in-control percentage - the percentage of deliveries he middled or left alone - against pace was 94%, which again indicates that he adapted well to the pressures of a challenging pitch and a brand new ball.

Pujara versus Anderson and Broad on the first day in Mumbai
  Balls Runs 4s Run rate
Good length 68 20 1 1.76
Short 14 16 3 6.85
Full length/ yorker 7 11 2 9.43
Total 89 47 6 3.17

Against spin, he was equally assured, though he scored at a slower rate against them - his in-control percentage off Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel was 90%, which is impressive considering the vagaries of the pitch.

Given that run-scoring was fairly difficult on this pitch, Pujara also worked out his scoring options well: 56 out of his 114 runs were scored through flicks or nudges on the leg side, which was a relatively safe method on a track where driving the ball wasn't easy. He also used the sweep shot a couple of times - a stroke he doesn't usually play - but that was only after he had settled in and played more than 200 deliveries. The first time he attempted that shot was in the 67th over of the innings, from Swann, as he took the ball from outside off and struck it powerfully to the square-leg boundary for four. Like most things he did today, that was a perfect stroke too.

Pujara against each England bowler
Bowler Runs Balls 4s Dots Strike rate
James Anderson 19 44 2 32 43.18
Stuart Broad 28 45 4 31 62.22
Monty Panesar 39 105 3 80 37.14
Graeme Swann 25 73 1 53 34.24
Samit Patel 3 12 0 9 25.00

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Devavrat on November 24, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    The Graphics show a very important thing - the RED DOT BALLS - finally a batsman who knows where his off stump is !

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2012, 2:31 GMT

    Has ticked all the boxes as of now, but it is too early to celebrate or for that matter compare him with the great Dravid. Just wait till the real test arrives. But still got to appreciate his willingness to stay and score big and hungry for runs, a hallmark of genuine test cricketer. The irony here is that he has not been a great hit in IPL.

  • Goundla on November 24, 2012, 1:32 GMT

    With all due respect to Dravid, actually this boy looking better then him. Of course, he need to prove outside subcontinent.

  • SATISH CHANDER on November 23, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    Certainly a great talent. He has delivered at home extremely well. Hope he will emulate Dravid when going to places like Aus, Eng, NZ and SA where tougher tests await him. One thing which I see is that like Dravid, he is ready to wait for bad balls and plays Test matches the way it should be played - With patience !

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2012, 21:57 GMT

    Many ways the batting low quality of Sehwag and good quality of Pujara (like Sachin and Rahul) are so pronounced. We can easily understand if a pitch is unplayable when Sehwag gets out with 30 odd runs, because he can't do it. He needs a batting tracks to get his runs.

  • Vincent on November 23, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    The selectors in hindsight must have thought if only he should have been drafted in a bit earlier ...wasn't this the same bloke who scored triple hundreds in the domestic circuit a while ago and then made to wait and waste.. The show should go on// somebody will step up to it...lets start thinking for the future with this result..draft in promising talent early in the longer format first..If they can adapt to the longer version on the international stage then the rest will be quite easy than vice what happened to Rohit.who I feel should have been given the indian cap as early as during the 2008 tour of Austraila...Hope the selectors are eating humble pie...Opportunities are not similar just because those all come under the internation banner...Tests are just different..It brings out the best...If a NO.10 Bangla bowler can score a 100 on debut..then I feel sad that Rohit was not given the opportunity to revel in the mode which was best suited for. I feel Rohit for Yuvi..!!?

  • Ashok on November 23, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    Great Stats. Mr. Rajesh.Dhoni asked for a turning & bouncing pitch from Day 1. He got it but 4 top Indian batsmen Tendulkar,Gambhir, Kohli & Yuvraj failed. Fortunately for India Pujara & Ashwin batted with a great degree of command. Pujara was masterly & showed why he is the best Batsman in India today & for long time to come - hoping he remains fit. It was India's good luck that they finally selected Pujara. He made an impressive test debut vs. Australia 2 year ago & was calmly discarded therafter. He had to fight his way back thru' leading India A teams abroad & batting well. Fans keep comparing him to Dravid or Laxman. He is neither. Clarke & Amla - only other comparable batsmen!. Pujara will stamp his own greatness one day if he continues in this vein. His technique is sound with perfect defense & immense patience. He is hungry for runs & refuses to give up his wkt.These are the qualities missing in most modern Test players.Good luck CP, in completing double century on Day 2!.

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    rahul dravid was the Mr.dependable in test cricket, and we could not ask for a better replacement than pujara at this point, now tendulkar is the weakest link who needs to retire, and we can give a chance to one more middle order batsman, or simply bring in an opener, and ask sehwag or gambir to play the number 4 or 5, slot, along with kohli and pujara.

  • Dummy4 on November 23, 2012, 18:33 GMT

    well done Pujara boy........

  • Srinivas on November 23, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    This generation's Dravid, or better than Dravid, has arrived. Take a bow!

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