Saurashtra v MP, Ranji Trophy, 9th round, 3rd day December 31, 2012

Pujara's dominating double stuns MP

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Madhya Pradesh 135 and 89 for 2 (Saxena 46*) need another 322 runs to beat Saurashtra 242 and 303 for 4 dec (Pujara 203*, Vasavada 55, Pandey 3-51)
Scorecard

For the rest, there was the slowness of the Khandheri pitch, its low and at times unpredictable bounce, and the zip in the new ball to tackle. For double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara, all of that didn't matter. Over five hours of top-class batting, Pujara went from free-flowing to aggressive to downright dismissive, remaining solid all the time. He was like a marathoner accelerating gradually through his first 30km or so and then retaining enough stamina and focus to sprint through the final fourth of the distance as if it were a 100m dash. His first fifty came in in 88 balls, the second in 63, the third in 51, and the final one in just 17.

Saurashtra had been 23 for 3 in the morning. Pujara's dominance crushed whatever pressure that scoreline suggested, reducing it to an entry on the card. By lunch, Saurashtra were 128 for 3. By tea, they had bolted to 303 for 4 and declared to set Madhya Pradesh a target of 411. The stunned visitors gifted two wickets to Saurashtra, leaving them with eight more to take on the final day to reach the quarter-finals.

MP would have had thoughts of a chase in the region of 250 after Ishwar Pandey's probing opening spell of 6-4-2-2. Pandey jagged one across Shitanshu Kotak to trap him leg-before, though the ball had pitched marginally outside leg stump. There was nothing marginal about the Saurashtra captain Jaydev Shah's dismissal, Pandey getting him to drive and sneaking a length delivery through the gate to uproot the middle stump.

With Pujara's presence, though, not for one moment did it appear as if Saurashtra were feeling the pressure, or that the MP attack, especially the spinners, was capable of making them feel it. His forward stride was big and assured, his defence was tight, and he made sure he put away even slightly loose deliveries. MP knew they were up against a special innings, and slowly, their fields went from aggressive to defensive. Aarpit Vasavada played an important knock as well, defending resolutely to make his second fifty of the match, but the day was all Pujara's.

Jalaj Saxena was getting some slow turn and bounce but Pujara dealt with it superbly, delaying a steer to beat deep point, and guiding one past slip even as he was surprised by the extra lift. He reached his hundred with successive fours off Saxena, one by stepping out and driving through extra cover and then, pulling hard to the deep-square boundary. Next ball, he was back to calm forward defence.

After motoring to his 150, Pujara went berserk. He reverse-swept Rameez Khan from leg stump to the deep-point boundary. A fielder was put there, so Pujara reverse-paddled the next ball to the third man rope. Devendra Bundela turned to his best bowler, Pandey, who was shredded for five successive fours. First ball, Pujara charged out to Pandey and lofted him over mid-on. The second was tickled to the fine-leg rope. He charged out against third ball, took it on the full and slammed it through extra cover. The fourth was an exquisite flick over midwicket, and the fifth a powerful pull that split the gap between deep square leg and fine leg.

Sixteen minutes after getting to 150, Pujara had his fifth first-class double hundred in the final over before tea. Saurashtra declared, giving MP four sessions to make 411. Naman Ojha and Saxena started positively before Ojha threw it away. Like in the first innings, he lofted the debutant left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja for two fours in his opening over. With MP needing at least a draw (and a Gujarat loss to Mumbai) to make the knockouts, Ojha tried to hit a third four in the over, and holed out to mid-on. There was to be one final sequence in MP's nightmare of a day.

Satyam Choudhary worked Jadeja to square leg, and Saxena raced halfway up the pitch. He then stopped, only to take another step or two, before finally withdrawing. By that time, Choudhary had been done in. Saxena and Rameez survived till stumps, but Pujara has already put Saurashtra far, far ahead going into the final day.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY jimbond on | January 1, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    Pujara is arguably the most promising batting talent from India, but scores on this sort of pitch does not say anything about the quality of his batting. A dry pitch on which only the new ball was effective, does not say anything about the quality of batting. In this match also, the good news from India's perspective is Ishwar Pandey's bowling. Given India's paucity of bowlers, I see him as someone who should be fast tracked into the Indian team (before he injures himself bowling on dead pitches such as this one). I agree with some of the comments that Rohit Sharma should be given opportunities in tests and T20s and dropped from ODIs. Even Sehwag is not good enough for ODIs and Rahane should be permanently given an opening slot. Gambhir should be dropped in tests and Rahane should replace him. Jiwanjot should be given a chance in India A and then for India. I would also like a bit more exposure given to Rishi Dhawan- from the glimpses he looked good.

  • POSTED BY Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on | January 3, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    A team that keeps losing because it's batsmen couldn't put up a fighting or safe enough score, keeps ignoring a quality batsmen who could bring stability to the batting order. Where's the logic in these kinds of selection policies? No hope for Indian cricket as long as they keep preferring poster boys with money as the motive rather than considering it as a bye-product.

  • POSTED BY Al_Bundy1 on | January 1, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    Pujara is a perfect fit at #3 or 4 in India's ODI team. He could play the role that Younis Khan does so well for Pakistan. He could provide stability in the middle, while keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles and doubles. Unlike T20, which needs big hitting, ODI is a game about rotating the strike and taking singles and doubles

  • POSTED BY Al_Bundy1 on | January 1, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Two players form this match - Pujara and Ishwar Pandey should be automatic choices for India's ODI team. We can't afford to let promising fast bowlers go to waste on India's flat pitches. If BCCI cares for Indian cricket, it should fast track Ishwar Pandey and Imtiaz Ahmed. Imtiaz is a well built fast bowler from UP who can swing both ways at good speed. He took 9 wickets in UP's first match against Delhi, and 10 wickets in UP's recent match against Odisha. In the UP vs Delhi match, Ishant took only 3 or 4 wickets. How come the non-performing Ishant is still playing for India while better bowlers like Imtiaz and Ishwar are left to fend for themselves?

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    ishwar pandey looks like a exciting bowling prospect..,He bowls with constitent line length.. and with good pace.. he should be fast tracked.. and must be picked in for foreign india a tours.. by this his raw bowling skills can be accessed.. and he could develop into potential contender for future indian bowling attack..

  • POSTED BY tony122 on | January 1, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    @vinoth kumar- How is yuvraj the best No. 6 ODI batsman in the world? He averages 35 with a strike rate of 80. There are 5-6 better No.6 than him in world cricket. He is an all time great T20 though.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Debutant DA Jadeja must be praised for showcasing class bowling, grabbing 9 wickets in first match itself. helping his team winning d must win game.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Pujara Is grooming up Well !!!! Well he should adapt for Foreign Condition too !!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    Ajinkya Rahane & Cheteswar Pujara can easily replace Sehwag & Gambhir as India's openers! Some may say they are NOT regular openers! So was the case with Sachin-Sehwag combo, who exploded on the ODI scene and continued their dominance for so many years! . Now it is their turn to pass the baton to a new young, talented and hungry pair!

  • POSTED BY tony122 on | January 1, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    @Ashish Sali- Men like pujara are so talented, that forget about finding the right spot, the whole batting line up of Indian Test and One day team will revolve around his position for the next 6-7 years, if selected.

  • POSTED BY jimbond on | January 1, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    Pujara is arguably the most promising batting talent from India, but scores on this sort of pitch does not say anything about the quality of his batting. A dry pitch on which only the new ball was effective, does not say anything about the quality of batting. In this match also, the good news from India's perspective is Ishwar Pandey's bowling. Given India's paucity of bowlers, I see him as someone who should be fast tracked into the Indian team (before he injures himself bowling on dead pitches such as this one). I agree with some of the comments that Rohit Sharma should be given opportunities in tests and T20s and dropped from ODIs. Even Sehwag is not good enough for ODIs and Rahane should be permanently given an opening slot. Gambhir should be dropped in tests and Rahane should replace him. Jiwanjot should be given a chance in India A and then for India. I would also like a bit more exposure given to Rishi Dhawan- from the glimpses he looked good.

  • POSTED BY Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on | January 3, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    A team that keeps losing because it's batsmen couldn't put up a fighting or safe enough score, keeps ignoring a quality batsmen who could bring stability to the batting order. Where's the logic in these kinds of selection policies? No hope for Indian cricket as long as they keep preferring poster boys with money as the motive rather than considering it as a bye-product.

  • POSTED BY Al_Bundy1 on | January 1, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    Pujara is a perfect fit at #3 or 4 in India's ODI team. He could play the role that Younis Khan does so well for Pakistan. He could provide stability in the middle, while keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles and doubles. Unlike T20, which needs big hitting, ODI is a game about rotating the strike and taking singles and doubles

  • POSTED BY Al_Bundy1 on | January 1, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Two players form this match - Pujara and Ishwar Pandey should be automatic choices for India's ODI team. We can't afford to let promising fast bowlers go to waste on India's flat pitches. If BCCI cares for Indian cricket, it should fast track Ishwar Pandey and Imtiaz Ahmed. Imtiaz is a well built fast bowler from UP who can swing both ways at good speed. He took 9 wickets in UP's first match against Delhi, and 10 wickets in UP's recent match against Odisha. In the UP vs Delhi match, Ishant took only 3 or 4 wickets. How come the non-performing Ishant is still playing for India while better bowlers like Imtiaz and Ishwar are left to fend for themselves?

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    ishwar pandey looks like a exciting bowling prospect..,He bowls with constitent line length.. and with good pace.. he should be fast tracked.. and must be picked in for foreign india a tours.. by this his raw bowling skills can be accessed.. and he could develop into potential contender for future indian bowling attack..

  • POSTED BY tony122 on | January 1, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    @vinoth kumar- How is yuvraj the best No. 6 ODI batsman in the world? He averages 35 with a strike rate of 80. There are 5-6 better No.6 than him in world cricket. He is an all time great T20 though.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Debutant DA Jadeja must be praised for showcasing class bowling, grabbing 9 wickets in first match itself. helping his team winning d must win game.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Pujara Is grooming up Well !!!! Well he should adapt for Foreign Condition too !!!

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    Ajinkya Rahane & Cheteswar Pujara can easily replace Sehwag & Gambhir as India's openers! Some may say they are NOT regular openers! So was the case with Sachin-Sehwag combo, who exploded on the ODI scene and continued their dominance for so many years! . Now it is their turn to pass the baton to a new young, talented and hungry pair!

  • POSTED BY tony122 on | January 1, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    @Ashish Sali- Men like pujara are so talented, that forget about finding the right spot, the whole batting line up of Indian Test and One day team will revolve around his position for the next 6-7 years, if selected.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Pujara would score bucket full of runs if selected for ODIs, but he bats #3. Already we have Kohli who is terrific and Rahane waiting. Pujara is not a big hitter like Raina or Dhoni to accomodate at #6 or 7 either.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    @ SK5983- I concur with yu...even i feel the same...feel yuvraj must give up test..he should understand that just playing test cricket doesn't mean he is an world class player...he is already an world class player...probably the best no 6 batsman in the world..hw should only play to hos strengths -odi and t20....and about bolwig we hve another experienced swing bowler- Praveen kumar... our bowling looks strong with lots of good fast bowlers.... Good times ahead for india :)

  • POSTED BY Natraja on | January 1, 2013, 1:37 GMT

    Wolf77,

    Top comment. Loved it. Rohit getting out "oh so gracefully" almost fell from chair laughing,

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Seriously, India's got a young group of exceptionally talented batsmen, you can remove Sehwag and Gambhir to make way for Rahane and Pujara. The team will have someone who contributes rather than a senior who clicks every 10 matches or so

  • POSTED BY wolf777 on | December 31, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    @ sameer11111…don't ask silly questions. Pujara is not good in nets...do you ever recall Pujara getting out 'oh so gracefully' just like Rohit Sharma?

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    Hope Pujara maintains this hunger for runs. World remembers real cricketers not IPL cowlashers or Pajama cricket specialists.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    Cheteshwar pujara has every right to snatch the odi place with ajinkya rahane.

  • POSTED BY crindex on | December 31, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Pujara has the ability - if he stays course - to push past even Dravid as a dependable run getter and match winner. However it is wait to be seen if he can go past the temptation of such things as IPL and BCCI politics. Post Dhoni India will have three captains for the three formats. Pujara is sure to get the captaincy for the test format - going past Kohli. Here is our future test captain .

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    happy for uttar pradesh good win for them hope that they will win ranji trophy this time

  • POSTED BY sameer111111 on | December 31, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    And why is he not in the ODI team that includes Rohit Sharma (whose last few scores resembles somebody's mobile number)

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | December 31, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Well played Pujara. Pujara and Rahane should be there in One day team they will be help in swinging and seaming conditons as they can weather the ball an safe guard the middle order. I think Rahane should open in all format and Pujara should play one drop in both Test and ODI, Kohli should open in T-20 and Odi and come down 5 in test, Rohit Sharma is not good ODI player but his record is fgood in T-20 and First class so he should play in t-20 and test at number 4 and 5 respectively. Raina and Yuvi should only conc on t-20 and ODI and Dhoni is the best player in ODI and lead the team. But he should make way for other wk in Test and T-20. In bowling we should Built the Pace Battery around Yadav and Aroon with Awana, Nechim and Shami Ahmed and swing bowlers like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan and Sandip Sharma. For spinners BCCI should have some programme and invite all the spinners from India and than choose and make them of International level as it is our biggest strength.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    I am sorry but I came here by clicking 'Eight teams to fight for four places' on the home page. I thought there would be a summary of the situation for qualifying etc. But this is just summary of one match! No problem going through all the scorecards and summaries, but just wanted to mention that the title on home page was misleading. :-)

  • POSTED BY Webba84 on | December 31, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    Pujara is fast becoming my favorite Indian player, seems like he has the right sort of brain to be a great test batsman.

  • POSTED BY Webba84 on | December 31, 2012, 16:33 GMT

    Pujara is fast becoming my favorite Indian player, seems like he has the right sort of brain to be a great test batsman.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    I am sorry but I came here by clicking 'Eight teams to fight for four places' on the home page. I thought there would be a summary of the situation for qualifying etc. But this is just summary of one match! No problem going through all the scorecards and summaries, but just wanted to mention that the title on home page was misleading. :-)

  • POSTED BY QingdaoXI on | December 31, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Well played Pujara. Pujara and Rahane should be there in One day team they will be help in swinging and seaming conditons as they can weather the ball an safe guard the middle order. I think Rahane should open in all format and Pujara should play one drop in both Test and ODI, Kohli should open in T-20 and Odi and come down 5 in test, Rohit Sharma is not good ODI player but his record is fgood in T-20 and First class so he should play in t-20 and test at number 4 and 5 respectively. Raina and Yuvi should only conc on t-20 and ODI and Dhoni is the best player in ODI and lead the team. But he should make way for other wk in Test and T-20. In bowling we should Built the Pace Battery around Yadav and Aroon with Awana, Nechim and Shami Ahmed and swing bowlers like Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan and Sandip Sharma. For spinners BCCI should have some programme and invite all the spinners from India and than choose and make them of International level as it is our biggest strength.

  • POSTED BY sameer111111 on | December 31, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    And why is he not in the ODI team that includes Rohit Sharma (whose last few scores resembles somebody's mobile number)

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    happy for uttar pradesh good win for them hope that they will win ranji trophy this time

  • POSTED BY crindex on | December 31, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Pujara has the ability - if he stays course - to push past even Dravid as a dependable run getter and match winner. However it is wait to be seen if he can go past the temptation of such things as IPL and BCCI politics. Post Dhoni India will have three captains for the three formats. Pujara is sure to get the captaincy for the test format - going past Kohli. Here is our future test captain .

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    Cheteshwar pujara has every right to snatch the odi place with ajinkya rahane.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    Hope Pujara maintains this hunger for runs. World remembers real cricketers not IPL cowlashers or Pajama cricket specialists.

  • POSTED BY wolf777 on | December 31, 2012, 19:16 GMT

    @ sameer11111…don't ask silly questions. Pujara is not good in nets...do you ever recall Pujara getting out 'oh so gracefully' just like Rohit Sharma?

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Seriously, India's got a young group of exceptionally talented batsmen, you can remove Sehwag and Gambhir to make way for Rahane and Pujara. The team will have someone who contributes rather than a senior who clicks every 10 matches or so