Poor light saves Sri Lanka
First Test: Bhuvneshwar and Shami give India sniff of unlikely win before players go off with India three wickets away
Cheteshwar Pujara is one of many Indian middle-order batsmen whose best years have been spent on the fringes of Team India, waiting for the Fab Four to retire. And when slots in the batting order started opening up, Pujara found himself down with injuries. But once he got himself fixed, his consistency at the Test level earned him new fans, even though he could not convert starts in England and Australia, and was eventually dropped for the Sydney Test. Cheteshwar Pujara’s background as a run-machine is overwhelming. He slammed his first triple hundred for Saurashtra at the Under-14 level itself. In fact, he has the distinction of scoring three triple centuries within a month, though only the last of them came in a first-class match. And he capped it by finishing the 2006 Under-19 World Cup as the leading run-getter with 349 runs. If that wasn’t enough, Pujara topped the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy charts too, with 807 runs in his kitty. After that, most thought that Pujara would be the automatic choice once slots started opening up in the Team India Test batting order. Pujara got into the playing XI against Australia in the Bangalore Test in 2010. And the 72 he hit on debut suggested a solid future. Injuries meant he had to work his way back into the team, and he established himself in the middle order in 2012, after the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. His consistency was exemplary, but Pujara suffered a dip in form during India’s extended overseas run in 2014-15. He couldn’t convert starts in England and Australia, and was dropped for the first time since his comeback in 2012 for the Sydney Test. Pujara has a good domestic record in List A matches, but the slam-bang style of Twenty20 means he isn’t always comfortable in the shortest format. But with solid technique, the right temperament and the hunger to score big, Pujara is a cinch for a successful career in Test cricket.