525 balls. It did seem that India’s ever dependable batsman Cheteshwar Pujara batted for an eternity as he toiled with the helpless Australian bowlers. En route to probably his most defiant Test knock till date, Pujara has not just saved the game for India, but has also put his side in a great position to win the Test. Despite being slow, Pujara was never restless and his determination stands out as an example for all budding batsmen willing to succeed on these shores.

 

Pujara found a more than able partner in wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, as the latter too notched up a stellar century. Together, for the 7th wicket,  the duo added a game-changing 199 runs to give India a bulky first innings lead. It was due to the sheer grit and resilience of these stars, that India now has a serious chance of going 2-1 up at Ranchi itself.

 

Post the day’s play, Pujara opened up about his knock and mentioned that his habit of playing the big knocks helped him to grind it out at Ranchi. “I have the experience of scoring big runs in domestic cricket,” saidPujara. “The experience matters a lot. You look at the bigger picture. When I was batting, I thought we just wanted to get close to their total somehow. I had to restrict myself at times I could have played more shots, but I had to control myself.”

 

“I had to restrict myself at times I could have played more shots, but I had to control myself,” Pujara added. “Didn’t want to lose my wicket. We communicate with each other. We have played a lot of cricket together. We know each other really well, even off the field. We spend a lot of time together so the understanding is there. I am very confident our spinners will bowl really well. It is rough, there are cracks,” he said.

 

Rubbing salt in the wounds of the Australians, Saha mentioned that he felt bad for the helpless and worn out bowlers.

“We decided to get in and hit once we get loose balls,” said Saha.

“The plan was to wait for the full ball from seamers and leave shorter balls. Against spin, I sued fee to rotate the strike. Day by day the ball has turned more and more. We are hoping it turns more on day five. The way Puji batted, I felt sorry for the opposition. It didn’t seem like he will get out.”