Colombo, Aug 29: Tough conditions. Unfamiliar batting position. Comeback match. All these pressures and challenges did not stop Cheteshwar Pujara from scoring a fine century at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground on Saturday.
On the 2nd day of the 3rd Test against Sri Lanka, India's right-handed batsman Pujara struck a hundred to send a strong message to the selectors and the team management.
Pujara, who was making his comeback in this Test after 8 months, was included only due to regular opener Murali Vijay's injury. And he capitalised the opportunity and again reiterated that he can deliver at the highest level.
While constructing his 7th Test hundred in difficult batting conditions and that too as an opener, 27-year-old Pujara has made the job of the selection committee tougher.
Already, Team India has 3 regular openers in Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. All have been doing well and Ajinkya Rahane hit a century at number three position in the 2nd Test last week against Sri Lanka.
Now, with Pujara reaching hundred, he might have pushed his case for reclaiming the number 3 position which he used to bat at.
Rohit was batting at number 3 in Tests but that move did not prove right. And he was pushed to number 5 and Rahane slotted at 3.
Fans and former cricketers have often criticised the move of dropping Pujara. The Saurashtra batsman was ignored as the team management provided more chances to Rohit Sharma despite him failing.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar had described Pujara as 'one-gear' batsman while backing Rohit's selection in first 2 Tests in Sri Lanka.
As soon as Pujara hit a ton, there were many including former skipper Anil Kumble, who expressed their happiness on social media.
Here are some of the reactions from Twitter after Pujara's ton
Pujara's case is that of a classical test batsman who's sacrificed to favour a more flamboyant player. Story of Indian cricket. Not correct!— Mohammad Kaif (@KaifSays) August 29, 2015
Class permanent, form temporary: good to see Pujara score a ton. How he could be dropped for first 2 tests, we will never know.— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) August 29, 2015
Comebacks are always tougher than debuts...add to that a difficult pitch & batting in an unfamiliar position. Pujara, you're a star 👏👍🙏— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) August 29, 2015
Cheteshwar Pujara well played, winning another battle of attrition— shishir hattangadi (@shishhattangadi) August 29, 2015
Superb test hundred from Cheteshwar Pujara under very challenging conditions, one to savour! #SLvIND— Tom Moody (@TomMoodyCricket) August 29, 2015
Well played @cheteshwar1 brilliant hundred. Keep it up!— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) August 29, 2015
Pujara- the most underrated batsman at present— ப்ரக்ருதி (@sri_94) August 29, 2015
Don't think there should be any argument about Pujara's place in this test side. Should never have been any argument in the first place.— Gaurav Kapur (@gauravkapur) August 29, 2015
Kudos Cheteshwar Pujara! Well played! Performing against all odds... & all camps! Literally!— Keh Ke Peheno (@coolfunnytshirt) August 29, 2015
Always said it, Pujara is an extremely classy batsman. How he was dropped all along is a mystery. Him & Rahane > Rohith Sharma any day— Srikanth Menon (@iSrikanthMenon) August 29, 2015
Test Cricket needs more players like Chetshwar Pujara🙏 #SLvIND— Aman Kamboj (@BeingCriCrazy) August 29, 2015