When Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped for the Test series against Sri Lanka, not many were sure if he would play another Test for India. At 34, it is not easy to make a comeback, especially when a host of talented youngsters are just waiting to grab the spot.
But within months, Pujara has changed the narrative around him by hitting four back-to-back centuries for Sussex in County Championship. With a one-off Test to be played in England later this year, it looks like Pujara has already cemented his spot in the playing XI.
After getting out for 6 in his first innings, Pujara responded with a gritty double-century to salvage a draw against Derbyshire. He continued his fine form, scoring a brilliant 109 against Worcestershire, and followed up with his second double-century, against Ben Stokes-led Durham.
Against Middlesex, he was well on his way to another double-century before Middlesex declared the innings to force a result. Pujara, meanwhile, remained unbeaten on 170. It was not the easiest of knocks for the Indian batter, who came to the crease when his team was teetering at 6/2, and had to face a fiery spell from Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Afridi was relentless in his opening spell, and was troubling batters with his back of the length deliveries. Pujara, however, came on with an attacking mindset, forcing the pacer to change his length after hitting a glorious upper-cut for a six.
He also played a powerful punch that pierced the heavily guarded off-side field and raced away to the boundary.
Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif lauded Pujara for his approach. He wrote: “What do great players do when out of India team? Knock the selectors’ doors with 100s and 200s like Pujara. Away from IPL glamour, a simple ‘forget me not’ message”.