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We have read numerous adjectives over the years describing the various batsmen who made up India’s great Test line-up of recent vintage. Over time, with almost every adjective, you could tell the batsmen it was being used for. Think marauder, perfectionist, immaculate, stylist: think Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman. In the coming years, if Cheteshwar Pujara keeps doing what he did today – and he probably will – we’ll read one more: batsman. Nothing more, just batsman. Because Pujara just bats, no frills attached, the way a woodcutter cuts wood, the way a painter paints, the way any worker works.
Not for a delivery is he unattractive, but he is not attractive either. Not for a delivery does he seem to be making too much of an effort, but he is not effortless either. Not for a delivery does he seem to be taking too much pressure, but he is not unbothered either. He just does his job like it is to be done.
He said he had wanted to make a debut Test hundred, had missed out [he made 72] and was satisfied to get his maiden century, which he dedicated to his father. “He has been working really hard on me ever since my childhood. He went through some tough time in his life – he had a bypass surgery – and he’s still coaching me. I’m very thankful to him and would like to dedicate this to both my parents.
“The first target [tomorrow] is to put up 400 on the board and then individually, if I can score a double-hundred, it will be great,” Pujara said. He is on 119, and already thinking about getting a double. Somehow, when he said it, it didn’t sound like a boast. It didn’t sound fake as well.
Have India found their new No. 3 in place of the colossus who played 164 Tests? They could have. But for the moment, India have a young batsman who bats, pure and simple. Savour him, for he is a rarity.
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