New Delhi, Dec 6: He is the unsung hero of Team India. He has this uncanny resemblance with his idol. Cheteshwar Pujara's copybook style had made him an apt replacement of the Wall of Indian cricket--Rahul Dravid. Though he was always referred to as Dravid's replacement, Pujara was often criticised for not performing like Dravid on foreign soils. With his maiden century in Australia he has staked claim for The Wall of Indian cricket. It is not only the style, but Pujara's records are also a photocopy of Dravid's records
He may not be as famous as Dravid, but in statistics too he matches Dravid. With his fighting 123 at Adelaide, Pujara completed 5000 runs. In a coincidence, Pujara achieved the feat in 108 innings, same that Dravid took. Pujara and Dravid also share the records for 3000 and 4000 runs. Have a look.
Runs Dravid (No. of innings) Pujara (No. of innings)
3000 67 67
4000 84 84
5000 108 108
This was Pujara's second hundred overseas after the one against England in Southampton.
In a fitment of things, Pujara's gritty Adelaide innings came to an end with a brilliant direct throw from Pat Cummins.
With his 16th century, Pujara equalled former India captain Sourav Ganguly's century scores. Ganguly had scored 16 centuries and 35 half-centuries in his career.
The new wall of Indian cricket, also became sixth Indian to score a hundred on the first day of a Test outside Asia. He joined the list of Vijay Manjrekar, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay
Indians who scored a 100 on first day of a tour outside Asia:
Vijay Manjrekar 133 (Leeds 1952)
Sachin Tendulkar 155 (Bloemfontein 2001)
Virender Sehwag 105 (Bloemfontein 2001)
Virat Kohli 119 (Johannesburg 2013)
Murali Vijay 122 (Trent Bridge 2014)
Virat Kohli 143 (North Sound 2016)
Pujara 123 (Adelaide 2018)
Pujara later said his gritty hundred in the opening Test against Australia ranks among the top five of his 16 centuries in the longest format.
This was the second overseas hundred for Pujara this year, after his effort in Southampton against England. He also scored fighting half-centuries in the two Test wins at Johannesburg (against South Africa) and Nottingham (against England).
"It (Thursday's knock) is one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five. I can't rate if it was one of the best but the teammates were appreciating, they were saying it was one of the best," he said at the end of day's play here with India at 250/9 thanks largely to his effort.
Pujara scored 246-ball 123 to pull India out of trouble in the ongoing match here.
The 30-year-old said although a majority (10) of his 16 hundreds are at home, it in no way suggests that he is more effective on Indian pitches. Only three of Pujara's overseas hundreds have come outside the sub-continent.
"...people have always said that I have scored more runs in India. But at the same time, you also need to look at the number of matches we play in India. If we have played more number of matches in India, obviously I will score runs there," he reasoned.
The right-hander said he has never been short of confidence while taking guard on foreign pitches.
"At times, I have had a bad phase playing overseas but I still feel very confident playing in different conditions and playing county cricket has helped me a lot.
"Playing in England, conditions are always challenging and when you come to Australia, you know that pitches are slightly better and as I said, I had decent time to prepare before the Test series," he said
New24 Bureau/ PTI