Bengaluru, Sep 20: As India gear up to play their 500th Test, against New Zealand, in Kanpur from Thursday (September 22), middle order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has picked his 5 best Tests in country's history.
India played their first ever Test in June 1932, against England at Lord's. CK Nayudu was the captain and India lost that match by 158 runs.
Now, 84 years after that historic debut in the traditional format, India are set for 500th Test, this time at home, at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.
Right-hander Pujara, who is part of the Virat Kohli-led Indian team for the New Zealand series, picked his 5 best moments, in a video posted on the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) website. (Pujara confident of good performance in NZ series)
"(It is) 500th Test match (for India) and I am going to pick my best 5 moments of Indian cricketing history," the 28-year-old Pujara said.
"My first best moment would be 1996 at Lord's Rahul (Dravid) bhai and Sourav Ganguly made their Test debuts. And Dada went on to score a hundred and Rahul bhai scored 90 odd runs. Both are my idols and I was 8 years old watching it on TV. I enjoyed their innings," Pujara, who has played 35 Tests, said.
He continued, "My second best moment would be Anil (Kumble) bhai taking all 10 wickets at Feroz Shah Kotal in 1999. I was praying that he gets the last one becasue I was watching it live on TV. When they (Pakistan) were nine down I was hoping he gets the last one and he did it. It was an ultimate moment for me. And now I have an opportunity to work with him. He is the coach of the Indian team and I am enjoying the time with him."
Pujara's 3rd pick was India-Australia Test at Eden Gardens (Kolkata) in 2001 where the hosts staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in history after following on. Thanks to VVS Laxman's 281 and Dravid's 180 (both in second innings after following on), India won that famous Test.
Sachin Tendulkar's epic 155 against Australia in Chennai in 1998 features at number 4 in Pujara's list. Pujara said he enjoyed Sachin paaji's batting against Shane Warne.
The 5th and last best moment for Pujara is India-Australia Test in 2010 at PCA Stadium in Mohali where Laxman took the team home with the tailenders.
"It is 500th Test match for the Indian team and we all are looking forward to it. It is a big big occasion and all of us should come together and cherish this moment. I am privileged and honoured to be a part of it. We all are going to enjoy this," he concluded.
Here are Pujara's 5 best moments of Indian cricket history till date
1. India Vs England, Lord's (London), 1996 [Scorecard] - Draw
2. India Vs Pakistan, Feroze Shah Kotla (New Delhi), 1999 [Scorecard] - India won by 212 runs
3. India Vs Australia, Eden Gardens (Kolkata), 2001 [Scorecard] - India won by 171 runs
4. India Vs Australia, MA Chidambaram Stadium (Chennai), 1998 [Scorecard] - India won by 179 runs
5. India Vs Australia, PCA Stadium (Mohali), 2010 [Scorecard] - India won by 1 wicket