Before South Africa, Cheteshwar Pujara has his say

Cheteshwar PujaraSaurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara plays a shot during Ranji Trophy match against Bengal at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Friday. PTI Photo

There's nothing new about Cheteshwar Pujara scoring double or triple centuries in domestic cricket. In fact, he has made a habit of playing marathon knocks at this level, a fact that held true at the Chepauk on Sunday. His 269 (461 balls, 33x4) flattened Tamil Nadu on their home patch and secured three points for Saurashtra. It was his 25th first-class hundred nine have reached or gone past 200.

While declaring on 565 for eight, Tamil Nadu must have thought they had enough runs on a pitch with some grass cover.

Then, they put Saurashtra under pressure by removing their openers with only 12 runs on the board. It became 66 for three after 23.3 overs.

However, they hit a roadblock in the man who bats at number three for India and Saurashtra.

The man who watched Pujara's marathon from a box-seat was Saurashtra captain Jaydev Shah. Shah himself played a magnificent hand and missed his double-hundred by only five runs. Together they put on 353 runs for the fourth wicket after which, Aarpit Vasavada (70) paired up with Pujara and added 157 runs for the fifth wicket. That saw the visitors were home and dry.

"We had a very good partnership. The first phase of our partnership was very critical. The ball was doing a bit and we had to ensure we didn't get out," Shah told The Indian Express from Chennai. "Later the pitch became good to bat. Overall, we paced our innings very well."

How did the captain see Pujara ahead of the South African tour? "Pujara knows his game very well and, as usual, played sensibly. The best part of his innings, or rather his game, is his shot selection. This is the main reason why he consistently scores big," Shah observed.

South Africa, however, would be a different ball game altogether.

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