Slam bang cricket seems to be the order of the day. Cricket is becoming more and more about runs scored rather than there being any takers for technique and when technique is making way for flamboyance there obviously is a propensity to have public idols from among those who have survived despite having thrown caution to the winds. In the world of cricket, five-day cricket made room for the One Day Internationals, which in turn lost their glamour to T20 and we now even have some competitions in ten over a side.
However, far from the world of slam bang cricket but standing tall among the ruins of five-day cricket is a single name — India’s very own Cheteshwar Arvind Pujara. The departure of Rahul Dravid, nicknamed as The Wall, due to his staying power at the crease, seemed to signal a big void at the number three position of India’s Test batting order. Pujara has now proved more than once that in him India has found the ideal replacement for Dravid in the Test batting order. Rahul’s contribution to the Indian team and Indian cricket deserves adulations for several other reasons; however, Pujara seems to be his ideal replacement for at least a single reason mentioned above. As a matter of sheer coincidence, even statistics seems to agree with this view. Playing for India, both these batsmen reached the 3,000-run carer aggregate in 67 innings, the 4,000 mark in 84 innings and the 5,000 mark in 108 Test innings.
A talent like that of Pujara needs serious contemplation to be given his right due. During the 2014-15 Australian series when Dhoni’s sudden announcement to retire from Test cricket came like a bolt from the blue and Virat Kohli was given the captain’s mantle, the latter refused to include Pujara in the Test team on his thinking that Pujara was too slow. Four years later Virat’s growing experience has brought about a 180-degree change in his thinking and history has been created with India’s first-ever Test Series victory against Australia, in Australia with Pujara as the man behind the miracle. There isn’t a shade of doubt that without the Man of the Series, the final script of the series would have been very different.