Teams Played For
Board Presidents XI, Kolkata Knight Riders, India, Royal Challengers Bangalore, India A, Rest of India, India B, West Zone, Mumbai A, Saurashtra, Indians, Kings XI Punjab, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Indian Board Presidents XI, India Blue, Nottinghamshire, Zalawad Royals
Cheteshwar Pujara belongs from an old school and is regarded as one of the finest Test cricketers of this generation.
It was in the early 2000s when Pujara was making heads turn with his daddy hundreds. Pujara had scored a triple century at the U-14 tournament and followed it up with a double ton against England U-19 in a four-day match.
He made a reputation of himself for scoring big. It was after his knack of scoring big, the officials were forced to change the playing conditions in Rajkot. By a short span of time, Pujara had become a run machine in Ranji Trophy games.
Pujara was tipped to be the next Rahul Dravid in Test cricket more due to the mental aspect of his game rather than his technique. After churning out triple centuries and double centuries for fun at the flat Rajkot wicket, the selectors couldn’t overlook him.
In a generation where quick money at different franchise T20 leagues has become a trend, Pujara remains one of those very few players who take pride in playing Test cricket and doesn’t have any qualms about being a longer format specialist.
Pujara made his Test debut in October 2010 against Australia at Bangalore, where he scored a quick-fire 72, before getting bowled to a Nathan Hauritz’s delivery. He had to wait for three more years to get his maiden ODI cap. Meanwhile, he represented Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) in between 2010-14 seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
He was picked for the tour of South Africa for the 2010-11 tour but couldn’t manage to make an impact.
Pujara was in ominous form during the home Test series against England which India eventually lost by a 1-2 margin. He smashed a sensational 206 against England and followed it up with 135 in the Mumbai Test on a track where the other batsmen including the great Sachin Tendulkar were failing miserably. He continued to be a consistent run-scorer in home Tests.
He came strongly after the injury which prevented him from taking part in the tour of England and Australia in 2011.
In March 2013, he scored a sensational double century against Australia in the home series as India whitewashed the Aussies 4-0. His record in home Tests was quite staggering but what made heads turn was his performance in South Africa. He smashed a sensational 153 and followed it up with a half-century against a star-studded South African bowling line-up in December 2013.
Pujara had a poor run of form in England and Australia in 2014 and was subsequently dropped from the Test squad. He made a remarkable comeback in the 2015 series against Sri Lanka with an epic knock of 145 where he carried the bat through the innings on a seam-friendly surface.
Pujara has remained an integral part of the Indian Test setup. During the tour of England in 2018, Pujara was dropped from the XI after a poor series in South Africa. However, he returned with a bang in the 3rd Test which India won quite comfortably. Pujara was by far the Player of the Series for India when they defeated Australia for the first time Down Under in 2018-19.
Post the Australia tour, he had a relatively poor time in West Indies and New Zealand in the ICC Test Championship, in 2019. However, the Indian Number-3, once again, stood tall during the 2020-21 tour of Australia. He started the series averagely, but as the series progressed, he became like a wall and took the Australian short-pitch assault on his body. His twin half-centuries at SCG and the second innings 56 at Brisbane, earned him the title of “Iron man of India”.
In February 2021, Pujara was picked by Chennai Super Kings in the auctions ahead of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League, to make his IPL come back after seven years. There have been critical comments already made, taunting his strike-rating, although his domestic T20 stats state that Pujara’s technique doesn’t bid him but give him wings.
(As of March 2021)