Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his 15th Test century and his first in England on the second day of the fourth Test at Rose Bowl, Southampton on Friday (August 31).
It was a timely hundred by India’s number 3 batsman as the visitors suffered a horrific collapse. India were 51 runs away from England’s first innings score of 246 when they lost the eighth wicket. However, a determined Pujara (132*) farmed the strike brilliantly with the tailenders to ensure a vital 27-run lead for India.
Addressing the media after the end of Day 2, India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar hailed Pujara’s gritty ton, saying that the innings was a blend of caution and aggression.
“He showed a lot of composure, clarity of thought and great discipline in his judgement outside off. You saw a great mix of caution and aggression in his innings. He also showed another facet of his batsmanship, a glimpse of what he could do when he was batting with the tail,” Bangar told reporters.
“Talent can not only be seen in class, but also in bloodymindedness. He showed mental strength, patience and the concentration today. If you have all those characteristics then even if you have some limitations in terms of scoring areas or not possessing all the strokes, you can become an effective Test player. That is what he showed,” he added.
Bangar said Pujara had a few technical issues to sort out when he arrived in England for the Test series.
“He was coming off a rough patch and also hadn't really scored as many runs as he'd have liked in the last 10-11 innings for India,” he remarked.
“He was struggling a bit when he joined the team but you cannot really make decisions based on how one does in the first-class format because he's a proven international player. Obviously, certain areas had to be worked on. He had to get his balance and footwork right. Those were the two areas we worked on as a support-staff group, Ravi (Shastri) and myself. It's heartening that the work that he put in was duly rewarded,” the assistant coach further explained.
Earlier, England off-spinner Moeen Ali tormented India’s middle order. Ali picked up four wickets in quick succession to reduce the tourists from 181/4 to 195/8. He got rid of Rishabh Pant (0), Hardik Pandya (4), Ravichandran Ashwin (1) and Mohammad Shami (0) within the span of 21 deliveries. Moeen broke the 32-run partnership between Pujara and Ishant Sharma (14) to complete his fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
Bangar was not pleased with the way some of the batsmen threw their wickets.
“We thought two dismissals were pretty soft. Hardik really wasn't on top of the ball while driving and Ashwin attempted that reverse sweep at a pretty early stage in his innings. If he was set and batting with the tail, one could have thought that shot was on. But at that point in time, when Pujara was going so well, maybe they could have done things differently,” Sanjay Bangar concluded.