Australia vs India 2018/19, 1st Test: 4 important lessons to learn from Cheteshwar Pujara's 123

Ashwin Srinivasa

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Cheteshwar Pujara falls into the category of classical Test batsman who follows all the old principles of Test match batting. Pujara's batting methodology seems outdated in today's day and age, but the real fact is, players like him have become a rare breed.

Recklessness is the new age "Aggression" and teams feel proud about it. This has transformed limited overs cricket and batting has gone to unimaginable heights. This intent pays them rich dividends in ODIs and T20s but they walk on thin ice in Test matches.

However, in Test match cricket, teams are failing miserably. Players who look like "Legends" in limited overs cricket become sitting ducks in Test matches. The fact that some of the modern-day stroke makers don't give themselves any time and want to dominate the proceedings from the outset, is an alarming issue.

However, people like Pujara, Alastair Cook or a BJ Watling approach Test match cricket with the same old golden principles: patience and perseverance.

On that note, let us have a look at four important lessons to learn from Cheteswar Pujara's 123 at Adelaide.

#4 Putting a price tag on his wicket

Sunil Gavaskar famously states "Give the first hour to the bowlers and take the next 5 hours for yourself". Pujara epitomized this famous adage by exactly doing this. When he walked in to bat, India had lost KL Rahul to a reckless shot.

Pujara came in at number 3 and batted with a lot of focus and patience. He soon saw Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and even the great Virat Kohli doing the same mistake of going after the ball outside-off with hard hands.

Pujara cut down that risk by leaving all the deliveries outside off and making the bowlers bowl at him. He was in trouble against the dip that Lyon was generating but smartly kept him at bay by taking singles. Pujara reached his 50 off 153 deliveries and did not take any risks until Ravi Ashwin was dismissed.

#3 Sound temperament

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Pujara showed exemplary temperament against the Australian quicks, there were many drive-able deliveries and he ensured that he doesn't fall prey to it. Pujara displayed solid awareness of the situation when he batted with Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant and Ravi Ashwin followed by the tail.

Pujara stayed at one end and there was a time when he was batting on 11 from 44 balls and stayed on 11 till he had faced 76 balls. He was smart enough to blunt the new ball. When Ravi Ashwin joined him, the pair manoeuvred the strike well with Pujara doing the bulk of the scoring.

When he was left to bat with the tailenders, Pujara suddenly changed gears and hit quite a few boundaries and sixes.

#2 Patience

For a player to be a successful Test match batsman, patience is of utmost importance. Pujara showed, if a batsman has the patience to hang in there for one session when the ball and the bowlers are at their rampant best, there are runs for the taking.

Pujara had scored 11 runs till the lunch session and was successful in completing a classy hundred by the post-tea session.

He waited till the Australian quicks got tired and started to build some important partnerships with the lower-middle order. Once he realized the pitch had flattened out, he nailed it by going after the reckless Starc and the disciplined Hazelwood to score some quick runs for India.

#1 Skills and Technique

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One of the most impressive things about Pujara's 16th hundred was the technique he showed against the Australian quicks. Pujara has an imminent problem of prodding the front-foot and not covering the line of the ball, which has resulted in him getting bowled through the gate a number of times. However, this time around, he was tight in his defence and was sure about where his off-stump was.

Pujara has also struggled against the wily Nathan Lyon and the dip the off-spinner produces. But he was smart enough to dance down the pitch and smother the spin, which made the off-spinner bowl short on a few occasions.

He could milk Lyon for runs on both sides of the wicket. Pujara's technique was compact enough and he had good control of the proceedings.

The Impact

Only time will tell if this has any impact on India's fortunes as they have definitely squandered an early advantage of winning the toss. 250/9 is a good score considering India were 41/4 at one point.

If India's bowlers turn up against this fragile Australian batting line-up and dismiss them cheaply, India can surely drive home the advantage in the second innings.

Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best on Day 2 in Adelaide.