India A v WI A, 3rd unofficial Test, Hubli, 3rd day October 11, 2013

Pujara's third triple-century sets up huge lead


West Indies A 268 and 116 for 3 (Deonarine 44*, Fudadin 36*, Pandey 1-11) trail India A 564 for 9 dec (Pujara 306*, Gambhir 123) by 180 runs

While the fans of Indian cricket were struggling to come to terms with the inevitable retirement announcement of Sachin Tendulkar, wondering what life will be like without him, doubting if things will ever be normal again, Cheteshwar Pujara delivered immediate normalcy in the remote town of Hubli. Resuming the day at 139, he first accumulated, then looted, even as he farmed the strike, and became only the ninth batsman ever, and the second Indian, to score three first-class triple-centuries. His two previous triples came against Karnataka and Orissa

It wasn't a personal pursuit. Pujara's innings gave his side, trailing 1-0 in the series, four sessions within which to force a result. India A declared 296 ahead, and all three of their quicks delivered an early wicket each before the Guyanese pair of Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin saw them through to stumps.

Pujara's innings was just the feeling of serenity and calm that the Indian cricket fan needed. Nothing was done in a hurry, not one shot was uncouth. Pujara scored 60 in the first session, happily lapped up the life given to him in the last over before lunch, then hit away 107 of the 142 scored in the middle session, and declared the innings closed at the stroke of tea. Pujara's control was so comprehensive that he let the last man Ishwar Pandey face only three balls in a 5.2-over-31-run unbeaten partnership. Pujara scored 71 off the last 55 balls he faced.

Outside the usual drives and pulls, Pujara also manipulated the field with a reverse lap and a regulation lap off successive deliveries. How the fielders must have felt mocked. Two of the fielders weren't all that amused when a third bouncer in a Miguel Cummins over was called a no-ball. Ashley Nurse spoke to Pujara for more than two minutes with Chadwick Walton joining in.

Six overs later - as it happened on day two in the last over before lunch - Nurse had a chance coming his way at second slip, and dropped it. Pujara was 198 then. He took a single off the last ball and went off to sate the lesser of his hungers. When he came back, he had one delivery from Nikita Miller jump at him, but benefitted from the absence of a short leg. A leading edge in the next over fell short of point, but then he tucked one off the hips for his 22nd four and his eighth first-class double-century.

You knew a session of Pujara punishment was around the corner. In the back of your head was his sprint from 150 to 200 in 17 balls when Saurashtra were pushing for a declaration against Madhya Pradesh on the last new year's eve. Here he waited for a bit. Time wasn't quite right yet. With Uday Kaul he added a largely patient 93. Once Kaul got out, the switch was flicked. He was 235 off 360 when he pulled over the infield for a four.

Dhawal Kulkarni scored only six out of a 39-run seventh-wicket stand. Pujara wasn't muscling the ball, but hardly ever hitting to the fielder. At Kulkarni's fall, Zaheer Khan came out and swung a few, so Pujara took the back seat and let him do that. Zaheer's wicket brought another, and Nurse was now on a hat-trick, and Pujara was 273. Pandey played out the remaining two balls of that over, and bought himself a parking ticket at the non-striker's end.

For the next 23 balls, Pujara kept refusing singles, kept placing couples, kept hitting the boundaries, and eventually took a single off the fifth ball to reach 299. Pandey duly played out the last. As the field came up with Pujara on 299, he survived a lbw appeal from Delorn Johnson bowling left-arm quick from round the stumps. He played a scintillating cover-drive off the next ball to bring up the triple. The lead was now approaching 300, the clock was nudging 2.10pm, and the declaration was perfectly timed, merging the 10-minute changeover into the 20-minute tea break.

In the fifth over after the break, Zaheer trapped Powell who played across the line. Four balls later, Kulkarni struck the off stump of a left-hand batsman for the second time in the match, this time Leon Johnson, to make it 18 for 2. Kraigg Brathwaite fought hard, but didn't have the runs to show for the time spent at the wicket, and when he fell lbw to Pandey in the 18th over, the score had reached only 57.

That Deonarine and Fudadin played out the semi-new ball without many alarms made Pujara's innings seem even more significant in terms of time needed to level the series.

The nine members of the triple-triple club

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on October 12, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    best of luck pujara

  • Vivek on October 12, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    @Palla.avinash "he can pile sup quick and big runs " what a joke .I doubt if he will be able to score 15 runs of 10 balls if needed . once you see how slowly he played for Rcb

  • Varun on October 12, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Gambhir in the team that is not acceptable at any level. He literally thought that his place is secured and didn't play well for past 3 years and now he has a century against West Indies A team and he is in the list. Let him show consistency and the hunger shown by yuvraj then he can get into the side. Also Murali Vijay had 2 centuries in the last test match and there is no reason he shouldnt be included. Leave his t 20 form consider his last test series average it is phenomenal. Also I dont think so Dhoni is going to accept Gambhir that much easily

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    Starting XI: A Rahane S Dhawan C Pujara V Kohli R Sharma Y Singh M Dhoni (wk & c) R Ashwin Z Khan U Yadav B Kumar

    Extras: R Jadeja S Raina I Sharma A Mishra

  • avinash on October 12, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    pujara averages 56 in list A 3rd highest average in the world after michel bevan and gary ballance.He need to be given chance as a opener in odis instead of rohit sharma who always scores slowly for indian than the required rate and puts team under presure and inconsistent and i insist indian selectors to give pujara immediatly as opener who once settled gets quick and big runs which would make indian team unbeatable in odis while india was chasing.Pujara even scores faastly than many people think he needs to be played a head of rohit sharma who always for himself than team requirments. i hope selectors read my message.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Never forget about opener VA Jagadeesh's innings and form, he had a splendid last Ranji season and I believe was among the top 3 batsmen in last season. He also had a pretty good List A season, and is in extremely good form. No wonder he is selected and fired right away with the 91 that he scored against NZ A, and here he is again with a fighting 86. Having been in domestic circuit for a long time, he should be having a very good mature head on his shoulders. 2nd tested against W indies his 86 was the foundation, but we unable to dominate. Jaggu, who is yet to get chances in tours with IND A abroad also in Coming series against Windies.

  • Android on October 12, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    the probable eleven for the tour of south Africa is S Dhawan G Gambhir(openers) C Pujara V Sehwag V Kohli Y Singh M Dhoni(c&wk) B Kumar A Mishra J Khan I Sharma

  • Android on October 12, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    sir jadeja is best than gambhir or anyone else shikhar will take sehwag place and unmukt must take gambhirs place for better results

  • James on October 12, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    For the tour of Australia, this team would be formidable Dhawan, Gambhir (openers), Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Kohli, Sehwag, Dhoni, Bhubaneswar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, Yadav

    Gambhir as opener is better than most of the pretenders. He rotates the strike, plays pace and spin well and can also stay on the wicket for long. At number 4, Rohit Sharma will be most suited with his ability to defend as well as force the game. Kohli at 5 would be the key in terms of a rearguard option or building on the starts of the earlier batsmen. Sehwag at 6 would be demoralizing for the opposition, anyway he does not need much time to play out his innings. Amit Mishra would be more of a spin threat than either Ashwin or Ojha or Jadeja. Sehwag or Sharma can provide part time spin options. Yadav is the only one in the Indian team with pace, could be relevant in SA and Australia.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    @Sir_Ivor on (October 11, 2013, 14:54 GMT):

    Your are right about Rahane. He is ready to to be picked (for some time). He sure is the best stepney, if either of the new front tyres punctures. Unmukt, Rahul, Jeewanjot, Bawne and a few more in the same class with potential will ripen into fruitful India openers. Now, they are raw; and the mango exporters will tell us; any artificial means to speed up ripening could be cancerous. So, we have to give them chances at many level two matches , wait and watch.

    A few mentioned Vijay. Delight to watch, when in flow. But his performance still follow the 'sine curve', up and down. If the sign curve is tuned into a steady upward climb, he is the ideal partner for Dhawan. And Rohit goes back to contention along with Yuvi & Raina for the middle.

    Jadeja & Samson are ideal for short formats, as of now. Both can become good test players. Between the two, Samson needs a little more time. If Ashwin doesn't regain form, Jadeja can come in with ease.