October 21, 2010

The day Pujara seized his chance

In the last innings of the Bangalore Test, a 22-year-old walked out instead of Rahul Dravid - and made sure he gave those watching plenty to talk about
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For one poignant moment Cheteshwar Pujara was a fan again. Looking over the shoulders of his team-mates at the post-match presentation following his audacious innings on the final day of the second Test against Australia in Bangalore, Pujara did not want to miss out on anything Sachin Tendulkar was saying. When Tendulkar finally mentioned his name, Pujara's face lit up.

It was not that he was feeling empty without an acknowledgement from his senior team-mates. His 72 runs in the final innings had shut Australia out of the contest. He had no doubt he belonged among the elite. He just wanted to hear his name, savour the moment, soak in the happiness.

A week later he still is pinching himself in delight. "I am still recovering a little bit," he says. "It is a great feeling, no doubt." But he is not getting carried away. "There are many things to achieve in life. It is a very good start but it is in the past now, and as a cricketer I would like to be in the present."

Only Pujara and his father-mentor-coach-comforter Arvind know how hard it was for him to claim the honour of being India's 266th Test cricketer. Rajkot is no backward town, but in terms of cricketing infrastructure it is the outback. Pujara trained on concrete wickets, with sparse kit, against average bowling, and grew hungry as time ticked by.

At 22, he has not waited all that long to earn a Test berth. It just seems that way, though, since he seems to have been scoring big in domestic cricket forever. In the last four first-class seasons Pujara has averaged at least 50: in 2006-07 he logged 595 runs at 59.50 (two centuries and three fifties); in 2007-08, 807 at 73.36 (three centuries and three fifties); 2008-09, 906 runs at 82.36 (four centuries); and last season he had 554 at 79.14 (one hundred and four fifties).

His desperation possibly had something to do with the fact that contemporaries like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli seemed to be gaining mileage in the media based on brilliance they had shown in the shorter versions. Pujara did not panic and try and transform his game, though. He suppressed his impatience and kept his focus clear. And when in Bangalore he was told he was in, an hour before the toss, he knew he was ready. He walked in as if he belonged.

On the eve of the Test Gary Kirsten told him to be prepared and that he might get a chance. VVS Laxman was to have a fitness test for back spasms on the morning of the match. Pujara went to bed thinking Laxman would probably make it.

During the morning warm-up, Laxman walked up to Pujara to tell him he wasn't feeling okay and that he might not play. "He also said sorry to keep me hanging in the balance," Pujara says. "Because I was making my debut he understood that if I was playing and got the news 45 minutes or an hour before the match, it was not good. But he couldn't do anything about it and I told him that."

When he walked in to bat on the third day, he couldn't have asked for a better partner. Tendulkar was already in the zone, inching towards his double-century.

"Sachin paaji told me, 'You will feel some pressure initially because it is your debut match. You will feel some nerves and stiffness in the body. But just enjoy it, don't put pressure on yourself. It will go away after 10-15 minutes.'

"When I went in I did not feel anything. But as soon as I reached the crease I saw my name followed by the word 'debutant'. Everyone started screaming. Then I felt, 'Oh, this is the moment I have always wanted to be in'"

"When I went in I did not feel anything. But as soon as I reached the crease I saw my name, followed by the word 'debutant'. Everyone started screaming. Then I felt, 'Oh, this is the moment I have always wanted to be in.' It was different from a Ranji game."

Having watched Tendulkar and M Vijay dominate the Australian bowling for many hours on an easy pitch, Pujara was looking forward to batting himself. He lasted only three balls, though, and was defeated by a fast, angled, ankle-height Mitchell Johnson delivery from round the stumps. Tendulkar and other team-mates consoled Pujara later, pointing out it was not his fault.

"I was really disappointed and it was really difficult to sleep," he says. "The wicket seemed very batting-friendly. So I thought things would be easy for me, especially as the bowlers were tired. And I was feeling well when I entered. The second ball I hit a four but somehow I got out."

He did not let the disappointment affect his fielding on the fourth day, impressing with his agility at silly point and short leg, giving India's spinners confidence and putting pressure on the Australians.

Pujara's hour of reckoning would arrive on the fifth morning, when he was told during the warm-ups that he would have to bat at one-down. "I said, 'It is perfect,'" he says. He agreed with the team management's strategy behind the move, which was that they did not want an inexperienced player down the order with India chasing in the fourth innings. "Raina and myself are good players but we are still inexperienced in Test cricket."

The confidence MS Dhoni showed in him despite it being only his second international innings was important to him. "The opportunity I got of batting at No. 3 was one of the best moments. It was a bit difficult - a challenging task," Pujara says. "As a debutant you want to score some runs in the first innings, to prove you are capable enough to play at the international level. And when you get out for a low score your confidence does go down. I told myself that I did not do anything wrong, so let me be positive. I have done enough hard work and I'm capable enough to play at international level. And when I got to play at three, that was my best chance."

On the fourth evening he read a spiritual book in Gujarati. One sentence made an impression: "If you have worked enough and if you trust God, then why do you worry about the result?" The book is one Pujara has had since he was 12 or 13. It was introduced to the family by his mother, Reena. "She did not force us to read it, she just left it there. One day I picked it up and started to read it. I get life-changing thoughts reading such stuff, as I believe in God," he says.

The second time he went in to bat, that sentence came to mind. "I said I wouldn't worry about the result. I have worked hard enough. I will try and be in the present. I will just bat," he says.

When Virender Sehwag got out on the fifth morning the crowd went mute for a minute, then sighed, seeing Pujara and not Rahul Dravid, the local hero, walk in. Did Pujara sense the disappointment of the fans? He begs to differ.

"I sensed they wanted me to score runs. They wanted India to win," he says. But he admits the first ball was difficult. The first-innings dismissal was playing on his mind. "I was a bit more nervous."

He took a risky single and was lucky Ricky Ponting missed hitting the stumps at the end to which Vijay was rushing. The next over, Pujara hit Johnson for a boundary, but the momentum only swung his way when Nathan Hauritz came on to bowl his first over of the day. Pujara charged him second ball to hit an off-drive that went straight, past the right of mid-off, to the boundary - his favourite shot from the innings. Eleven came off that over. "I thought then that I could dominate the bowlers," he says.

The fields set for Hauritz were easy for Pujara to manipulate. He had watched the offspinner closely in the first innings. "I had seen him bowl to the same fields during the first innings from round the wicket to Sachin paaji and Vijay. I don't want to say if it was the right field or wrong field, but I knew what field he was going to bowl to me," he says. By lunch Pujara was on 26, including four boundaries.

Pujara made his Test debut on October 9 - the day, in 2005, that his mother passed away, succumbing to cancer. "She was one of the most inspiring persons in my life and the one whom I loved the most," he says. "So I did not want to do anything sad. Wherever she is now, she would be happy."

For Pujara to play for India has not been a dream for him alone. It has been a family dream, one achieved through collective efforts. If there is one person happier than Pujara, it is his father.

"He is a modest person," Pujara says. "People are not aware of how much he has done for me. His contribution to me is tremendous. The satisfaction is, I have met his dream."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • plsn on October 23, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    All those idiots who are saying that he did not face the quality bowling of Johnson and Hilfenhaus - why do you think they were not given the ball to bowl if they were really so "deadly"? Come to grips with reality - there is really no bowler who can control the Indian juggernaut, except, maybe Boulinger, at times.

  • on October 23, 2010, 0:13 GMT

    best of luck chethesh ... u fully deserve to play for india .. i hope u will succeed as per the expectations . still long way to go ...

  • on October 22, 2010, 23:42 GMT

    Pujara should be in ODI as well in the next yeam

  • Prats6 on October 22, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    I was absolutely heart broken when he got out in the first innings to an absolutely unplayable ball. And then to see him bat in the 2nd innings, the way he did, I am overjoyed. I have never prayed and wished for any one player so much as I have done for CP. Thank God for this !

    And as he says... If you have worked hard and you have faith in God, why worry ? Amazing line for a young man. Hats off my friend !! Keep your head and work hard and then leave rest to God.

  • Yorker_ToeCrusher on October 22, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Guys,be real.How many of you have atleast played with leather ball on a turf wicket?How many of you know how tough is it to get selected for a district team,forget about playing for inda?.Give due respect to people who have atleast appear and played at the highest level.

  • Raki99 on October 22, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Real test awaits Outside India, and on bouncy pithches in australia,southafrica and swinging conditions in England. Ya he played well but please Don't just judge him based on one innings. Let's see how he plays in South africa this winter.

  • on October 22, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    One good innings and such adulation- get over it folks! If he plays a few more of these and we see a 45+ average overseas then the raving is worth it but so far let's reserve judgement. Great potential doesn't always materialise into consistent world class performances (remember Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth and even Ishant Sharma). Don't place him on a pedestal too early!

  • on October 22, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    thank God for Pujara. It is poeple like him and Raina that can carry the batton of Sachin, Rahul and VVS. We need morely God fearing people in the team not party animals using expletives for celebration instead of thanking God for the victory given. God bless you Pujara.

  • sagar-MI-fan on October 22, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    He is a good crickter and can cement his position in the Indian team. He really played good in ICL. Looks like he will be next Indian wall.

  • Raja22222 on October 22, 2010, 4:49 GMT

    Too much of hype will create lot of expectations and may ends in a sad manner.Pujara played only one innings. He faced only 10 balls of johnson and 14 balls of Hilfhanus. He was lucky enough to play 65 balls of the weak bowlers.Some of the deadly balls of johnson and hilfhanus were faced by vijay. Pujara may be a good player in the future but playing in test matches consistently will guarantee that.Pujara is neither an aggressive player to watch nor a stylish batsmen..

  • plsn on October 23, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    All those idiots who are saying that he did not face the quality bowling of Johnson and Hilfenhaus - why do you think they were not given the ball to bowl if they were really so "deadly"? Come to grips with reality - there is really no bowler who can control the Indian juggernaut, except, maybe Boulinger, at times.

  • on October 23, 2010, 0:13 GMT

    best of luck chethesh ... u fully deserve to play for india .. i hope u will succeed as per the expectations . still long way to go ...

  • on October 22, 2010, 23:42 GMT

    Pujara should be in ODI as well in the next yeam

  • Prats6 on October 22, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    I was absolutely heart broken when he got out in the first innings to an absolutely unplayable ball. And then to see him bat in the 2nd innings, the way he did, I am overjoyed. I have never prayed and wished for any one player so much as I have done for CP. Thank God for this !

    And as he says... If you have worked hard and you have faith in God, why worry ? Amazing line for a young man. Hats off my friend !! Keep your head and work hard and then leave rest to God.

  • Yorker_ToeCrusher on October 22, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Guys,be real.How many of you have atleast played with leather ball on a turf wicket?How many of you know how tough is it to get selected for a district team,forget about playing for inda?.Give due respect to people who have atleast appear and played at the highest level.

  • Raki99 on October 22, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    Real test awaits Outside India, and on bouncy pithches in australia,southafrica and swinging conditions in England. Ya he played well but please Don't just judge him based on one innings. Let's see how he plays in South africa this winter.

  • on October 22, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    One good innings and such adulation- get over it folks! If he plays a few more of these and we see a 45+ average overseas then the raving is worth it but so far let's reserve judgement. Great potential doesn't always materialise into consistent world class performances (remember Irfan Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Sreesanth and even Ishant Sharma). Don't place him on a pedestal too early!

  • on October 22, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    thank God for Pujara. It is poeple like him and Raina that can carry the batton of Sachin, Rahul and VVS. We need morely God fearing people in the team not party animals using expletives for celebration instead of thanking God for the victory given. God bless you Pujara.

  • sagar-MI-fan on October 22, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    He is a good crickter and can cement his position in the Indian team. He really played good in ICL. Looks like he will be next Indian wall.

  • Raja22222 on October 22, 2010, 4:49 GMT

    Too much of hype will create lot of expectations and may ends in a sad manner.Pujara played only one innings. He faced only 10 balls of johnson and 14 balls of Hilfhanus. He was lucky enough to play 65 balls of the weak bowlers.Some of the deadly balls of johnson and hilfhanus were faced by vijay. Pujara may be a good player in the future but playing in test matches consistently will guarantee that.Pujara is neither an aggressive player to watch nor a stylish batsmen..

  • Anup82 on October 22, 2010, 4:17 GMT

    Lets hope Pujara makes it big. Also I think team managements (or Dhoni's?) decision to send him up the order was a crucial one. The opportunity was created and he made full use of it and helped India win.

  • knowledge_eater on October 22, 2010, 3:03 GMT

    I don't understand one thing, how does media hyping and talking about player or saying great thing about player can spoil him ??? Really if that is the case then Sachin Dravid Laxman Kumble Ganguli never could have performed after their many good performances in early career !! Hahaha its all personal. No matter billions of article were written on some player (Sachin) if that player is good player, he is going to perform. Media footage doesn't bother any players ability. It is very subjective. And I think it is our culture when ever we see someone getting glory, we say look look see see he forgot us. He has become big man now, he is not down to earth anymore. Really ! Or we changed our perceptions to view him after he got famous. ? Interesting.

  • knowledge_eater on October 22, 2010, 2:51 GMT

    This is beautiful Article. That is the reason, I hate it when Fans go crazy when some players fail in tournament and start abusing players. Even in comments some are already ready for him to fail and "see-we-told-you-so-he-will-not-play-good." Seriously, the guy scored match winning runs on debut test on the day his world was partially lost. Have a decency of commenting at least. Please. We have know idea how hard is to become Cricketer and that in India with that much of competition around. It is very tough. Very touchy article at the end. Long journey ahead, staying fit is the key. Good Luck. Peace.

  • on October 22, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    If you have worked enough and if you trust God, then why do you worry about the result?

  • muski on October 21, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    I could not watch the innings as I was travelling in Europe- However this augurs well for Indian Test Cricket. We need to nuture this guy in a composed manner so that he fits quite well ( perfect fit is quite unreasonable to expect) into the rather big shoes of the VVS or Rahul who are bound to hang their boots in the next couple of years.Hope the media hype does not get into his head and hope he concentrates on his game and technique. May the IPL mania not kill his technique.God bless Pujara

  • karansagar on October 21, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    Pujara is a useful batsman for India. No I mean could be a useful batsman. He has been hitting hard lately. Kolkata Knight Riders made mistake dropping him even though it wasn't their fault Pujara couldn't be useful. Pujara should be given a chance in the ODI's so it would be easier for him since most players try to play in Test matches since they would earn more fame, leaving the less experinced players in the ODI's giving other team's newbies a chance. Pujara might also have high hopes to be in the squad for the World Cup if he does he should not have them unless he thinks he is able to score centuries with ease or get atleast a 8 or 9 MOM awards ( or 3 or 4 Player of the Series) which is very unlikely since I don't think he will be play that much games. So well that is all I wanted to say

  • Avradeep on October 21, 2010, 19:43 GMT

    I have waited for Pujara's test berth for 3years.Am very excited to see the modesty in Pujara. For the first time in many years, i feel that finally we are seeing the emergence of someone of the likes of dravid, Laxman or ganguly(Tendulkar is a different league altogether), not only in terms of batting talent, but also in terms of work ethics, dedication and attitude towards the game. I have heard that he is extremely hard working, down to earth guy. And, do i need to say that he is a gifted batsmen?? May god bless Pujara, and thus blessed be indian test cricket.

  • sanzo5 on October 21, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    your mother will be proud of what you have did pujara... try to get as much knowledge u can get from the big three in the team and especially dravid.. no 3 in the batting line up willl be yours soon after the world cup... all the best....

  • Raj12345 on October 21, 2010, 18:45 GMT

    Congrats Pujara. You deserve a place in playing XI, not anywhere. It is your pure hard work brought 72 there. Hope selectors give you more chance to prove your skill.

    Poor Badrinath got into state/zonal issues, knocking his door since Ganguly retired from test cricket. No one ready to acknowledge his skill. I am wondering how much temperament he got and still playing like Australian cricketer does. It happens only in Australia where someone has to wait for test call up after scoring million runs. Looks like it happens in India also by looking into Badri case. Might be good for Indian cricket.

  • on October 21, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Great story - saw him bat in both innings - a new Dravid in the making - fearless strokeplay - a rookie became a star

  • Yorker_ToeCrusher on October 21, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    Its safe to say that Pujara is good enough to get 30 test centuries.I will not be surprised if he score more centuries.

  • AhmadSaleem on October 21, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    Don't generate too much hype out of it. It was a nice start but there have been much greater starts by many batsmen but they failed to continue. We have a recent example in Yasir Hameed here in Pakistan. Hope he gets a chance to play in UK and SA and prove his worth there.

  • on October 21, 2010, 17:37 GMT

    Very good game after a bad first innings ....

  • on October 21, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    Making his debut on the date of his mom's death, surely this is more than a mere coincidence.Its ordained that way.Pujara seems to have the character and has come up the hard way.The article is definitely touching. Hope the kid stays grounded as he's got some big shoes to fill !!

  • cricket_the_gr8 on October 21, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    What a hard worker this guy is. Give me instances of some current crop of youngsters who have worked so hard to get this?? Harsha Bhogle once said that in cricket it is your attitude that counts & not talent. This attitude means how much are you ready to work to live your dream. What distance will you go to achieve your goals. Cases of talent but no attitude are Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Vinod Kambli, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan. All these players have/had enormous talent. But what about their attitude. Cases of talent & attitude are Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Pujara, Badrinath, Dhoni, Dravid, Laxman, Srinath, Kumble. These people have practiced day in & day out & they still do even now. And to add it they are very humble. Unfortunately we Indian fans are dumb. We only appreciate talent & not hard work. Same goes for the selectors. THAT IS WHY INDIA WILL NEVER EVER BE WORLD BEATERS!! BECAUSE WE DO NOT APPRECIATE HARD WORKING CRICKETERS!!!

  • Crazy_Cricket_Fan on October 21, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    he is talented and wish him good luck..but somehow I feel that he will be next Kaif/Ishant/Irfan/Kambli..look at the hype and expectations..Ishant & Irfan sounded exactly the same way..they were too midle-class, hard working, down to earth, determined etc etc..what not..see their fate now..

  • jntrsc on October 21, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    This Kid was very impressive in his first test..I guess he would be in first 11 always if at least one of our BIG three retires

  • bismoy on October 21, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    I cant understand why there is not a single article on india arguably greatest batting talent after sachin, "Suresh raina",,,,,,,,,,,,

    He is only batman to scored 3 century in all 3 format and highest scorer in ipl,,,,,give the kid the due,,,,,,

    and those who think he is sitting duck infront of short pitch, it better to watch the game more carefully,,,,,he has the most devastating pull shot next to pointing only......

    if india has to win Wc 2011,my bet for man of match for final is raina,,,expecting a freakish innings,,,,,,,,go Raina go.......

  • SUNDOS on October 21, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    This is a talent that India should nurture.Unlike the flashy Raina,Rohit Sharma,and Kohli,Pujara looks technically accomplished.I hope all the media hype and the resultant expectations form one knock do not put an unfair burden on this young lad.The attitude is there and he will learn from the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar in the dressing room. Lakshman will soon become the senior statesman in the Indian team and Pujara should grab his chances.One feels for other talent,viz the likes of Rayadu,Rahane,Badrinath etc,who are destined to be the journeymen of Indian cricket.

  • A.Ak on October 21, 2010, 14:34 GMT

    As far as I remember there is only one person survived the media focus in the early age and did well in his career, that is Sachin. He played only one game and (doesn't matter good ball or not but scored only 4 and 72. Even players made 100/200 early were out of the team soon after (recent PHughes). Pujara was good in domestic level, but it is a whole different story in international level. He needs to start from scratch. Dont put so much attention and build pressure on him. Try also giving credit to the guy who scored his maiden hundred (139 and 38) in that game.

  • Percy_Fender on October 21, 2010, 14:15 GMT

    It is an irony that someone as gifted as Cheteshwar Pujara has had to wait this long to get into the Indian Test Team. Anyone who has followed his career from the U19 days and those of his contemporaries will know that Pujara is special. Along with Ajinkya Rahane, Pujara was always destined to make it big. It surprises me that Rahane has still not made it to one of the formats. Of course when the team has a middle order as celebrated as the one India has had for the last 5 years, it is usually considered blasphemous to even talk of anyone as likely replacements. What is most unfortunate is that the more flamboyant types are boosted up be a willing media. The likes of Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh are the ones who will eternally be considered as the ones ordained to play for India. I was upset when he got out in the first innings of the Bangalore Test to an unplayable ball. But when he came out to bat in Dravid's place in the second I could sense a new chapter in cricket opening up.

  • DCP1985 on October 21, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    @PPM, Hey i think u r trying to lessen the effort of this talented and hardworking kid by reducing the intensity of tht match and australia's bowling attack... and u r saying(or trying ) HYPE.... which is definetely not with dis kid.. As indians we follow our domestic matchs so keenly,out of which one can say, how hard working he has been.. at diiferent points of time he was pointed out for some or the othr reason(he scored in under17 then he got to face questions abt his capabilities at pro level, he scored plenty at tht level too, then for less strike rate, he strted scoring at faster rate with out losing his natural style..), and he is a quick learner, and not heavy headed like oter indiian youngsters... and what all mentioned in this artical is nt hype but his and his family aspirations.. i am sure he will be next big thing in indian cricket(he certainly has got the ability) but we better not take any comparisions.. I wish him all the best for his and indian cricket's future..

  • floydianechoes on October 21, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    may God bless him with a fab career, he seems to fit perfectly in the role of a sheet anchor. @ patrick, just wait and watch m8

  • manasvi_lingam on October 21, 2010, 13:27 GMT

    Even though it was the 4th innings while chasing a target, still Cricinfo is generating too much hype. There have been players like Abbas Ali Baig who started well but failed later. Let's not hype Pujara so much. He has the talent, but talent is not everything. And his stats are impressive but there's one batsman who must be given the chance soon - Rahane. Rahane's average is far, far ahead of anyone else and he scores centuries even more frequently than Pujara. It is good that there is a lot of competition from Kohli, Mukund, Vijay, Pujara, Rahane and Badri for the middle order.

  • on October 21, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    @Patrik: If that pace attack is hardly an attack, then according to ur opinion, this Aussie team should not be playing at all.. right? Stop being cynical. It does not take away anything from Australia if we praise a young lad who played a good innings on a 4th innings chase.

  • on October 21, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    Touching article. Hard work will never disappoints anyone. Not the ones that work hard and harder. Pujaria had shown that and made himself, his father and the nation proud. The innocence of youth was well used by Dhoni in the fourth innings. Now its upto him to carry one and keep away from distraction that will come his way. All the best Pujaria.

  • mitgop11 on October 21, 2010, 12:43 GMT

    I have seen him in domestic circuit a few times. He definitely has the temperment to play long innings in difficult conditions. 30 test centuries is something we can expect from him. Whether he is willing to stay hungry; willing to learn; and willing to stay humble (unlike yuvaraj singh).... time will tell... whatever we have seen so far is.... a brilliant start from a bright kid!

  • dyogesh on October 21, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Quite touching to note that he makes his debut on the day of his mother's death ! Well done, young man for keeping his emotions in control and doing well.

  • royalg on October 21, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    This Young Man is like a MAN ON A MISSION, i can see him achiveing a lot of success int he years to cum, SPECIAL TALENT THIS MAN, SHUD BE REPLACING R.SHARMA IN THE ODI TEAN

  • Lovetesh on October 21, 2010, 12:06 GMT

    @Patrick Paddy: Pujara cannot choose his batting conditions or opposition bowling attack. Give the credit where it is due. He played well. End of story!!

  • on October 21, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    he is the only 1 who can replace the wall...i think he should have debuted when ganguly was retired..the selectors wasted 3 years of his cricketing life playing domestic cricket.....

  • on October 21, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    INDIA HAS GOT ANOTHER RAHUL DRAVID AND I M SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO SEE MANY MANY GUD KNOCK FROM HIS BAT IN NEAR FUTURE..

  • vivvi on October 21, 2010, 11:13 GMT

    comon...pls ... just dont overrate youngsters and spoil them....if he has got international calibre let him show and come up then , we can be happy to see a good talent......but as of now an unnecessary article(s) for 70 odd (unless the editor is a relative to the kid) even sachin has'nt got that many article for 214 or vijay 139 or kholi 110( odd in ODI) for that matter even laxman and zaheers efforts .........im relatively new to cricinfo and i find these articles bit odd and wierd ,,.. the standard is'nt great............i wish to see professional people with., professional articles.......not give personal opinions (if that is the case then it can be done in "comments" section)........ ....hope i'm not wrong ..just giving my opinion.......thank u.....

  • shane_sha on October 21, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Well written and well deserved for the young lad - I hope for his / family sake he goes on to become a name to reckon in Test cricket!

    Impressed with Dhoni's thrust + trust in the youngsters...

  • on October 21, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    Impressive on debut .... ms dhoni knows the trick how to convert talents to performances... so pujara is definite talent... hopefully he will do well over the years

  • on October 21, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    Pujara has sense of maturity and ability to play cricket in three version of cricket(Test, One Day and T20). He has just achieved his first milestone to find a place in Indian team. Pujara you have done in domestic cricket and I know that you will do well at International level. Kathiawadi to Kathiawadi "Jeevan ma aagal vadhje ane sukhi raheje. Mara Rajkot nu naam roshan karje." Jay Mata di

  • Prats6 on October 21, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    People who do not know Pujara, would feel why so many articles praising the young chap.. Remember one thing, now for the past 3-4 years see that the players who are flashy, score a quick 100 in an odd domestic game or U-19's are promoted to the Indian team .. e.g. Rohit/Kohli/Jadeja/Raina and players who keep on piling the runs, scoring day in and day out in domestic e.g. Badrinath and Pujara hardly get a chance to play. This is why most of the editors or people who really understand the game feel absolutely overjoyed that he did make it count, I being one of them. Keep it up young man. Keep your head as well !

  • on October 21, 2010, 9:42 GMT

    whats the hype!! he batted in conditions that soooo favoured the batsman and against a pace-attack that hardly can be called attack... beating the australians aint a miracle anymore therefor they are about 6 years late!

  • Vivek.Bhandari on October 21, 2010, 9:41 GMT

    a typical middle-class down-to-earth boy...wish he grounds his feet on the ground and don't let media and other commitments spoil him

  • Dashgar on October 21, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    Stuart Law got a fifty on Debut as well. So did Brad Hodge. A long illustrious career is not his just yet. The cricket gods can be fickle. Hopefully for his sake he gets more chances but for the moment he'll probably be dropped for Laxman and will need to impress again in a year or so to get back in the team.

  • on October 21, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Well. I have been fan of Pujara since last two yeas. I have followed his news and scores. I am from Saurashtra and it's very honor for us that he is the future of India. He played confidently and gently. No other acts like aussies used to do. He has suffered a lot and don't down his abilities.

  • thianavi on October 21, 2010, 8:28 GMT

    Here is one for y'all to munch on.... There are more articles about Pujara than the total number of runs he has scored in his test career. That must be some sort of record, no?

  • on October 21, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    His innings was only the tip of the iceberg. Those who have closely followed Indian cricket, definetely would not have been surprised with this innings.

  • bkraks21 on October 21, 2010, 7:51 GMT

    @Rydham - A wall with much faster scoring rate :). I think the older wall should retire gracefully now rather than being made to do so. He is too gr88 a cricketer to be forced to retire but Indian cricketers never understand when it is time to leave.

  • bkraks21 on October 21, 2010, 7:49 GMT

    @GauravAndCricket - We wont go the Aussie way. Aussies have chopped and changed their team so much in the last few years. They are still good but would take a long time to become gr88 again. I am sure they would not go the West Indies way though.

  • thenkabail on October 21, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    TOUCHING ARTICLE: Cheteswar Pujara worked so hard in life. Nothing came easily for him and he trusts in god. It took ages for him to get selected to Indian team.......but he has proved that he is the BEST indian talent to take over from the current mega stars. I AM SO HAPPY FOR HIM. Let god bless him for great heights. Here is a next generation Indian team: 1. Shewag, 2. Gambhir, 3. Pujara, 4. Vijay, 5. Kohli, 6. Rohit Sharma, 7. Dhoni, 8. Zaheer, 9. Ishat Sharma, 10. Harbhajan, 11. Ojaha, 12. Yuvraj, 13. Ashwin, 14. Sreeshanth, 15. Praveen Kumar, 16. Mithun.

  • on October 21, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    A man coming of age.It gives me immense happiness to see a batsman coming to the Test forum in d best way possible.It should inspire a lot of first-class cricketers that even they have a chance to make it big if they perform well.Hope he goes a long way and replaces the big guns of India in the future.All d Best!!!

  • Emancipator007 on October 21, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    After 31 years of Test match watching, I was about to bid goodbye to cricket watching after Tendulkar's impending retirement. Classical Test batsman Pujara will keep me going!Folks, have you noticed: all the Big 4 seem to have almost a like-for-like replacement (am talking in terms of potential obviously). Pujara for Dravid, Raina/Gambhir for Ganguly; M Vijay who is definitely Laxmanesque with certain strokes without the same panache and technique though and blasphemously perhaps the supremely talented Rohit Sharma (when he sorts out his serious temperamental issues) for Tend. So does a 2-year-down-the-line Test line-up consisting of Sehwag, Gambhir, Pujara, Rohit Sharma,Vijay and Raina (I have doubts about him though he should survive as extreme and potent pace bowlers with searing bouncers are rare nowadays) look capable enough to maintain India's no. 1 Test status? P.S. Viru is a one-time, cross-generational game-changing Test match opener who will never have any replacement.

  • phatalerror on October 21, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    the guy finally got wat he deserved, maybe a trifle late but he got there nonetheless...but i bet the wait made him better..if he is patient and persistent he looks like he will go places...here is to hoping that people do not pressure him too much by likening him to dravid or laxman or anyone else..he is good being just himself and if they let him be, he will only get better..

  • SudheerPusuluri on October 21, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    Thanks Nagraj for letting us know his present thoughts..because it is easy to get carried away with the kind of acknowledgement he got..and "The Bangalore innings is in the past now, and as a cricketer I would like to be in the present" sums up he is not in that categeory..and the best thing about his innings was that it took two superb deliveries to get him out both the times..that's the sign of a good cricketer..

  • Emancipator007 on October 21, 2010, 6:44 GMT

    Never have I waited with so much self-built expectations and bated breath for an Indian Test player's debut since one SR Tendulkar in 1988 (when the Mumbai and even India cricket circuit was already agog about his prodigious talent and sure Test success a year before his debut!). Dravid and Laxman have had less hyped build-ups (maybe their respective city media were not influential enough) with the cognoscente not sure about their eventual Test performance and longevity. Pujara is what I call as the ready-to-serve- and- play Test class batsman who don't need to ply their wares for donkey's years on domestic circuits. Perhaps the last international one was Michael Hussey and before that Andrew Strauss. The moment I saw him playing in an India A match in 2009 and a few, short innings in the IPL 2010, his Test class was immediately evident in his technique, sure-footedness and fluid bat speed and body movement and I immediately started advocating his inclusion.CONTD.

  • on October 21, 2010, 6:38 GMT

    Please don't create too much hype about the future... The innings was very important in the context of the match. There were many guys who won matches in their first few innings like Hemang Badani, Amay Khurasia, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Vijay Bharadwaj etc. Let the guy play more matches and get settled.

  • harmske on October 21, 2010, 6:28 GMT

    Big things expected of Pujara, hope he is not put under too much pressure though. Given time, he will find his feet and become a prolific scorer for India in the long run. He's only 22 and even though he has a tremendous first class average, people shouldn't expect him to be 50+ average player straight away. His best years are probably gonna be 5-6 years from now, so he should be persisted with and given time to grow into the role.

  • Raju_Iyer on October 21, 2010, 6:22 GMT

    An excellent article, brought tears to my eyes towards the end. How true that the guys from bigger cities get much more mileage. Hats off to the young man for his determination. And to the likes of thianavi I would like to say buzz off!

  • on October 21, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    OK..he did play an exceptional innings..but can't you all guys move on..why this hype? Let him prove himself over a period of time. This hype by media(cricinfo,news channels etc.) is one of the reasons why many talented youngsters have lost their way after promising starts

  • Vindaliew on October 21, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    Particularly like how Laxman walked up to him and told him personally about him playing, and apologising for the last minute notice. Such a gentleman!

  • YoBro on October 21, 2010, 5:57 GMT

    Cheteshwar is the guy to fill Rahul's boots when he retires. So we're in good hands.

  • on October 21, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    I inspired by him towards my work... I wish all the best for his future!!! And you are the lucky one to play with Sachin Tendulkar.... Keep going...

  • Alchemy on October 21, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    I do not know much about Pujara, i am from Pakistan and i do not follow domestic cricket, but whatever Pujara did was 'a treat to watch'. Whatever i have read about him, it inspires me a lot and i would like wish him very best for his future pursuits. A very best inclusion to a very good Indian side. I think Dhoni should be credited for his brave and proactive decision making.

  • thianavi on October 21, 2010, 5:32 GMT

    You guys are making it sound like you just heard MLK gave the 'I have a dream' speech! Seriously, whats with all the hype? Give him a chance to prove himself on the field and play 25 test matches before heaping the adulation.

  • Alchemy on October 21, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    I do not know much about Pujara, i am from Pakistan and i do not follow domestic usually either it is in Pakistan or worldwide, but whatever Pujara did it was 'blinder'. Whatever i have read about him that inspires me a lot and i would like wish him very best for his future pursuits. A very best inclusion to a very good Indian side.

  • thianavi on October 21, 2010, 5:28 GMT

    I didn't read the article. Don't have to. Because there are 71 other articles about Pujara scoring 72. Can we wait a bit before we anoint him as the chosen one? Jeez! PS: I saw the innings.... I thought that it was great. But enough with the paeans already!

  • GauravAndCricket on October 21, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Well Done Pujara !! You are here to stay in International cricket for sometime now. Looking at players like Pujara gives me the confidence that we are not going to go the Aussie way once the stalwarts retire !!!

  • on October 21, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    A nice thoughtful article on the debutant ! Cheteshwar Pujara has arrived on the big scene ! No matter howmuch advice and confidence given by the mentors and seniors, any cricke is certain to ahve butterflies on his maiden appearance. The atmoshere is new, he is in big league and the pressure to perform will be at the back of one's mind. Pujara, though, unlucky to be adjudged leg before the wicket on the first innings, came good on the second. He reposed the faith on his captain MS Dhoni who had promoted him ahead of Radhul Dravid, The Wall'. There was a stunned silence on the ground after the early loss of Sehwag.To the credit of this tenacious figher, he middled the ball and an effortless cover drive of Johnson for a boundary somewhat eased his pressured. In came Hauritz and dancinvg down the wicket, the drove him past long for a four. He applied caution when Hilfenhaus was swinging the ball from the other end. Virtually, this innings of Pujarara paved way for our victory.

  • on October 21, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    Pujara you beauty keep going mate! You have a very clear head the pre requisite for success.

  • The-Robot on October 21, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    I dont want dravid to retire from test arena... But if he does then Soon Pujara can replace the wall .....

  • Rydham on October 21, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Being from the same state of India from where Pujara comes, I feel very good to read this article !! Personally I believe, He should have been given the chance in 2008-09 in place of Yuvraj Singh in the middle order but it is nice to see Raina performing well in this place now. Pujara is an asset for team india. He should be given chance in ODI as well in place of out of form Rohit Sharma who has lost so many chances. Who knows Pujara would be the next wall of India in all the formats !!

  • montys_muse on October 21, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    quite inspiring and touching...perfect dream come true story! well done pujara...this guy's for the future.

  • on October 21, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    This guy is the future; he has the attitude and talent to succeed in international cricket. I saw virtually his entire innings of 72, and I noticed two things that you never see in Indian batsmen - lightning footwork and watching the short delivery.

  • sundarb on October 21, 2010, 4:03 GMT

    Great article Nagraj. This one resembles more closely to real life than any other article I've read on this young man. Good that you avoided embellishing adjectives and general fluffiness, and got to the core of his success.

  • on October 21, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Good luck young Skywalker. May the force be with you.

    And to those that don't get the reference, shame on you :)

  • on October 21, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    best of lucky.....on a good future

  • xylo on October 21, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Well done Pujara! I believe next in line would be Badrinath.

  • on October 21, 2010, 3:12 GMT

    It is really nice article.every one should read this

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  • on October 21, 2010, 3:12 GMT

    It is really nice article.every one should read this

  • xylo on October 21, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    Well done Pujara! I believe next in line would be Badrinath.

  • on October 21, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    best of lucky.....on a good future

  • on October 21, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Good luck young Skywalker. May the force be with you.

    And to those that don't get the reference, shame on you :)

  • sundarb on October 21, 2010, 4:03 GMT

    Great article Nagraj. This one resembles more closely to real life than any other article I've read on this young man. Good that you avoided embellishing adjectives and general fluffiness, and got to the core of his success.

  • on October 21, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    This guy is the future; he has the attitude and talent to succeed in international cricket. I saw virtually his entire innings of 72, and I noticed two things that you never see in Indian batsmen - lightning footwork and watching the short delivery.

  • montys_muse on October 21, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    quite inspiring and touching...perfect dream come true story! well done pujara...this guy's for the future.

  • Rydham on October 21, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Being from the same state of India from where Pujara comes, I feel very good to read this article !! Personally I believe, He should have been given the chance in 2008-09 in place of Yuvraj Singh in the middle order but it is nice to see Raina performing well in this place now. Pujara is an asset for team india. He should be given chance in ODI as well in place of out of form Rohit Sharma who has lost so many chances. Who knows Pujara would be the next wall of India in all the formats !!

  • The-Robot on October 21, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    I dont want dravid to retire from test arena... But if he does then Soon Pujara can replace the wall .....

  • on October 21, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    Pujara you beauty keep going mate! You have a very clear head the pre requisite for success.