These are the days when I can be proud of myself, gain motivation: Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara, ranji trophy, sports news, cricket news, indian express

Saurashtra’s Pujara made 162 off 238 balls against Karnataka in Rajkot.

It's hard for me to select a few special hundreds as I cherish all 50 of them. A lot of hard work has gone into reaching where I'm now.

I don't usually look at stats but these are the days when I can be proud of myself and gain motivation for the future. I feel there is still a lot of time left in my Test and first-class career. The landmark has come at the right time, just before the New Zealand tour.

Some of my personal favourites:

145* vs Sri Lanka, Colombo (2015)

I was out of the playing eleven and trying to make a comeback. There was a chance that I could be left out again. I put extra pressure on myself to score runs. I had to open the innings in the third Test, and the conditions were challenging. Everyone was struggling. The series was locked at 1-1.

We lost six wickets for some 150 runs but Mishy bhai (Amit Mishra) batted well. I was batting well but looking at the scorecard, had we would not scored 300-odd runs on that pitch things would have been very difficult. It was that time of my career when a lot of things were going around me. I had not had a great Australian series and things were not going well. But that knock changed people's perception and I didn't look back after that.

123 vs Australia, Adelaide (2018)

In an away series, it's important to start well. It was a four-Test series and we had never won a series in Australia. When batting first, it's important to put up a decent total. If we had got all out for say 180, the team's morale would have gone down. I always want to perform in challenging conditions abroad and that too in my first inning of the first Test. If you start off well, you carry on the form and confidence into the next game. I scored 123, pulled out my team from some 140 for six. We managed to get 250. It gave me the confidence for the rest of the tour.

148* vs Delhi, Kotla (Ranji)

Saurashtra had almost lost that game and at lunch we were 80 for eight. We had to bat two more sessions to draw the game and I batted with tail-enders. I was batting on 20-odd and by the time the fourth day ended, I had scored 148. I had a crucial partnership with Jolly Jobanputra. It was a good Delhi side and everyone thought we will be bowled out soon. I just batted over by over and my partners too responded well. Then the time came when we thought that we had a chance to draw the game.

300 against Odisha (Ranji)

The pitch nor the opposition was challenging but a first-class triple hundred is always special. I have a triple hundred against West Indies A and many in junior cricket but scoring a triple in Ranji Trophy means a lot. I was on a great run, it was my third triple hundred in a month. I had scored back-to-back triple hundreds for Saurashtra under-23 against Mumbai and Maharashtra in a week. I scored the one against Odisha a week later, I guess.

100 vs Karnataka, CCI (Ranji QF)

It was a very high-profile game as Rahul bhai (Dravid) was playing that match. So was Sunil Joshi. We were competing against a great Karnataka team. Those days Ranji Trophy knockouts were played at neutral venues.
We were on the verge of losing the game. We were 10 for 3, chasing some 320 runs on the last day. The ball was turning and bouncing. Nobody thought we will win that game but we went for it. We discussed in the dressing room that if we get 100 runs in each session, we will be through to the semifinals. My hundred in that game was a big boost for my career.

(As told to Devendra Pandey)