Cheteshwar Pujara’s purple patch not only propelled India to a historic series win in Australia, it has also helped Saurashtra continue their dream of Ranji Trophy glory. After his unbeaten fifty in the quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh which helped Saurashtra chase down 372, the highest fourth-innings total ever achieved in a win in the Ranji Trophy, Pujara continued his golden run by slamming a century in the second innings against Karnataka at the M Chinnaswamy stadium to put them on course for a final against Vidarbha. Pujara came into bat when they were reeling at 9/3 in pursuit of 279 but his century, combined with Sheldon Jackson’s 90 and a 201-run stand helped them near the target.
However, there was plenty of drama on day 4 during the Saurashtra run-chase. At 68/3, Vinay Kumar was bowling to Pujara and the Karnataka captain bowled a full outswinger outside off, Pujara looked to defend and the ball went past the outside edge. Vinay Kumar appealed vociferously and was almost pleading with the umpire to give it out, all the Karnataka players charged and were certain that Pujara had edged it. However, umpire Saiyed Khalid did not give it out. Replays were shown and the on-air commentators said they heard a noise as the ball passed the bat.
Following the refusal of Pujara to walk, there were loud booes that echoed around the Chinnaswamy stadium. Fans started chanting ‘cheater’, ‘cheater’ when Saurashtra headed to the tea break and they were all directed at Pujara. On social media, a lot of people criticised Pujara’s decision to not walk while there was some support. However, when he notched up his century, the applause was warm and cheerful.
However, the incident raised question on whether a batsman should walk when he has knowingly edged it. In the past, players like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have edged a ball and have not walked. Dhoni did not walk in the Adelaide ODI and India won a tense game while Kohli did not walk after edging Trent Boult in the Wellington Test in 2014.
Pujara has been in sensational form ever since the tour of Australia. He smashed three centuries in tough conditions in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and his tally of 500+ runs at an average of 74 helped India win a Test series in Australia for the first-time ever. Pujara faced the most number of deliveries in a four-Test series and it played a vital role in India creating history.
It has been a topsy-turvy game after Karnataka reached 275 in the first innings with Shreyas Gopal hitting 87 and Jaydev Unadkat taking 4/50. Saurashtra were bowled out for 236, giving Karnataka a vital 39-run lead with Ronit More taking 6/50 but Karnataka were dismissed for 239 with Dharmendrasinh Jadeja taking 5/78.