Cheteshwar Pujara played an instrumental role in India’s maiden Test series victory on Australia soil. India’s eminent No.3 was the leading run-getter in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with 521 runs at an average of 74.72 including three centuries.
Pujara scored hundreds in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to script India’s twin victories in the series. While the Saurashtra batsman scored 123 in the Test series opener, he scored 106 and 193 in the third and fourth Test respectively.
Pujara batted for a record 1258 deliveries in the four-match Test series which is the most by an Indian batsman in a Test series down under, surpassing Rahul Dravid's previous record of 1203 balls in the 2003-04 series in Australia.
Impressed with his batsmanship throughout the series, India head coach Ravi Shastri on Tuesday (December 8) said if he had to pick a batsman to bat out an entire day and save a Test match it would be Pujara.
"Absolutely fantastic. If you want a batsman to bat out a day in a Test match, to save the team you'd pick that guy. Once he gets in he smells leather... there is no messing around," Shastri told India Today.
"He is so focussed, he has understood his game so well, what are his strengths and what are the strengths he should be capitalising on. And he doesn't barge from there. Nothing in the world can change his mindset there, his determination and his discipline in leaving balls, making the bowlers bowl at him.
"And what he did in this series as opposed to the last time he came to Australia was the way he played Nathan Lyon. He used his feet beautifully and looked to get outside the line. If you are struck on the pads, leg before was taken out of the fray and he worked the ball onto the leg side. And if there was anything full-pitched outside the stumps, where he could get to the pitch, he would put that away to the boundary. It was magnificent batting.. good old Test match batting," he explained.
Pujara continuously frustrated the Australian bowlers with solid defence and staunch approach. The fearsome pace trio of Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood couldn't able to suppress him throughout the series.
“He proved that you don't have to be a Flash Harry to be successful. In this day and age when the bowlers are smart, with analysts studying your weaknesses, bowling attacks being more accurate... you have to earn your runs,” Shastri said.
“You saw that with Virat Kohli in England and even with those two here. Pujara took it to another level when there would be days when he would be beaten once. You can imagine what a fast bowler must be thinking.. you could imagine what Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood must be thinking - 'next morning you have again bowl to this guy',” he concluded.