Cheteshwar Pujara rose to the occasion with a maiden century in Australia, pulling India out of a deep hole to a respectable 250/9 on day one of the first Test in Adelaide on Thursday.
Pujara showed the same grit and gumption that is typical of him en route a 246-ball 123 that kept India in the game after being reduced to 127/6 in the 50th over. It took a brilliant direct from Pat Cummins to remove him on what happened to be the final ball of an absorbing day one of the four-Test series.
Skipper Virat Kohli opted to bat in ideal conditions but the Indian top-order once again failed to apply themselves against the potent pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Cummins. Anything close to 250 looked a mountain to climb with India reeling at 56/4 at lunch. But Pujara stood tall amid the ruins to save India from embarrassment on way to his 16th Test ton. His fighting effort comprised seven fours and two sixes.
The 30-year-old put on two crucial partnerships with the lower-order batsmen to ensure India give their bowlers something to bowl at. Post tea, Pujara added 62 runs with R Ashwin (25) for the seventh wicket. The all-rounder played watchfully, unlike the Indian top-order, and played a great role in this minor recovery.
This is how Pujara constructed his innings:
|Cheteshwar Pujara in Adelaide on day one||123 runs in 246 balls, 380 mins|
He displayed incredible patience on a day when his colleagues failed to exactly that as this chart shows.
The century was another instance of Pujara willing to spend time in the middle, facing as many deliveries as possible.
Pujara’s innings created a fair few other milestones, including the fact that this is the most runs scored by an Indian on the opening day of a Test series in Australia.
This, perhaps, is the standout stat of the day – a proper throwback to another Indian No 3 scoring a memorable Adelaide Test century.
As good as the innings was, his dismissal, perhaps the only way he was getting out, added to the list of run-outs he has been involved in 2018.
Pujara’s run-out was the second instance of Australia’s fielding making a big difference.
Before Pujara’s rescue act, however, there was a familiar top-order collapse.
The big blow for India on the opening day came in the form of a rare failure for Virat Kohli at Adelaide.
|1st innings, 2011||116 off 213 balls (11 fours, 1 six)|
|2nd innings, 2011||22 off 62 (2 fours)|
|1st innings, 2014||115 off 184 (12 fours)|
|2nd innings, 2014||141 off 175 (16 fours, 1 six)|
|1st innings, 2018||3 off 16|
(With agency inputs)