Cheteshwar Pujara continued his magnificent form in the current series against Australia as he stroked his 17th century and his second in the tour to propel India to a strong position on day 2 of the Boxing Day Test against Australia. Pujara notched up the landmark in grand style as he danced down the track to Nathan Lyon, his chief tormentor in the series, and thumped him to the long-off fence to bring up the landmark. Pujara’s joyous celebrations summed up the mood as to how desperately he wanted to hit a century in Melbourne and his century partnership with India skipper Virat Kohli has put the Australian bowlers under immense pressure.
On day 1, Pujara had focused primarily on stonewalling the Australian pacers and he ensured India did not suffer any jolts on a wicket that was good for batting. Pujara’s magnificent partnerships with Mayank Agarwal, who scored a fifty on debut and Kohli have given India the right platform for a big score. On occasions where the Australian pacers bowled some loose deliveries, Pujara capitalised. He drove a full ball from Pat Cummins to the long-off fence and he also pounced on the short balls, upper-cutting one Mitchell Starc delivery to the third man fence.
Pujara continued to play straight and took minimal risks. He played Lyon well by using his feet and getting to the pitch of the ball with ease. He continued to be at ease against the short ball, employing the cut shot well against Josh Hazlewood and Cummins and finding the gaps at deep backward point.
The right-hander’s second century in the series, following his match-winning ton in Adelaide, was the fourth instance when Pujara has scored two centuries in a series. In the series against England at home in 2012, Pujara hit 206*and 135. He repeated the feat again against England in 2016 at home when he hit 124 and 119 in Rajkot and Vizag. Pujara’s feat of scoring two centuries in a series overseas came in Sri Lanka in 2017 when he smashed 153 and 133 in Galle and Colombo (SSC).
Pujara’s brilliant 123 and 71 in the Adelaide Test helped India win by 31 runs and it was the first time that India had won the first match of the series in a Test series in Australia. After a rare low score in Perth, Pujara has bounced back in style and India are on their way to dominating the Boxing Day Test in Australia.