Centurion Pujara shouldered burden in India rescue act

By Sports Desk December 06, 2018

Cheteshwar Pujara took it upon himself to step up after his India team-mates crumbled in the first Test against Australia on Thursday.

Pujara, batting from number three, made 123 on the opening day, despite an initially dismal performance from the tourists that had them at 86-5 just after lunch.

The in-form batsman led India's recovery as they closed at 250-9 and Pujara acknowledged the pressure was on in the closing stages after a partnership of 62 with Ravichandran Ashwin was ended.

"It was tough, particularly after losing seven wickets, but I knew that I could play my shots," Pujara said.

"Myself and Ash [Ashwin] had a good partnership and then, once we lost Ash, I knew I had to accelerate. I knew what shots I could play on the wicket because I batted for two sessions.

"But it was tough, particularly with the weather. We are used to it in India but still it was hot and humid."

Yet Pujara was frustrated by the nature of his dismissal with the final ball of the day as he was sensationally run out by Pat Cummins as he attempted to retain the strike.

"I was a bit disappointed, but I had to take the chance," he said. "The last two balls were left and I thought I should be on strike, so I took the chance but [Cummins] fielded brilliantly."

India could soon be boosted by the return of teenage opener Prithvi Shaw, however, as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered in a tour match.

"It was heart-breaking to see him go down the way he did but the good thing is he is recovering quickly," coach Ravi Shastri told SEN Radio.

"He's already started walking. Hopefully, if we can get him to him run a bit by the weekend, that's a really good sign.

"I would imagine [he will be fit for the third Test on December 26] but you never know. He's young. Sometimes different people recover differently.

"With youth on his side, there might just be a case where he might recover quicker. We'll take a call as and when we get closer to Perth [the second Test on December 14]."

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