Cheteshwar Pujara’s epic knock in the ongoing Sydney Test against Australia lasted a marathon 373 balls studded with 22 fours. He survived a review for caught behind on 12 and was dropped on 192 by Usman Khawaja from a difficult chance, but his innings was otherwise near-faultless. He finished on 193 and walked out to a standing ovation from the SCG crowd in what was a continuation of a memorable summer the Indian No 3 has enjoyed Down Under.
But his father Arvind, who has also been the batsman’s coach since childhood, was unable to watch the innings in full because he had flown in to Mumbai from Rajkot on day one of the Test and underwent a heart procedure, cardiac catheterisation to regularize the heart’s rhythm, on Friday according to a report in the Indian Express.
“I have been hearing people praise my son from across the world. It’s very heartening, if anybody had any doubt about his batting it’s all cleared. I will go home watch the replays,” the 68-year-old Arvind is quoted as saying.
(From the archive: An ode to Arvind Pujara, the man who made Cheteshwar the ‘silent warrior’ of Indian cricket)
Arvind, a former first-class cricketer, had an abnormally high heart rate and hence had to fly out of Rajkot along with Pujara’s wife Puja for what was a planned cardiac procedure. The report added that the family doctor had been in touch with the cricketer over the last few days.
“Our doctor had called him and told him that it wasn’t wise to delay the procedure. They had a long chat, and once he was convinced we went ahead,” Arvind said.
Pujara came to the crease when opener KL Rahul was out for nine and, as he had done all series, quickly dug in, soaking up the pressure and counter-attacking when he saw an opportunity. He passed many a milestone during his classy innings in Sydney, including setting a new record for facing the most number of deliveries in a Test series by an Indian batsman in Australia, going past Rahul Dravid’s record in 2003-’04.
Most balls faced by an Indian in Australia
|Player||Matches (Inns)||Runs||Balls faced|
|Cheteshwar PujaraIndia in Australia, 2018/19||4 (7)||521 (74.42)||1258|
|Rahul DravidIndia in Australia, 2003/04||4 (8)||619 (123.80)||1203|
|Vijay HazareIndia in Australia, 1947/48||5 (10)||429 (47.66)||1192|
|Virat KohliIndia in Australia, 2014/15||4 (8)||692 (86.50)||1093|
|Sunil GavaskarIndia in Australia, 1977/78||5 (9)||450 (50.00)||1032|
Speaking ahead of day three, Pujara, while reflecting on a special innings, said he spoke to his father after the innings.
“He congratulated me. People said I missed out on a double hundred but he said you still scored 193 and double hundred is just a number,” the Indian batsman told Australian broadcaster Mark Howard.
“When I was 8, my father started coaching me, he was a Railway employee. He used to bowl to me when I started and he has played first-class cricket so that experience helps. He made sure that the kind of bowlers I was facing since a young age, I knew how to handle pace. He made sure I faced pace and that helps,” Pujara said, recalling his initiation to cricket.
“It is about the way you practice and prepare. Whenever I practice with my father, he tells me you can’t get out in the nets because that becomes a habit. I try to play well in the nets to get good habits.”