Pujara’s extended stay


With seven wickets in hand, 537 runs ahead of Karnataka and just a day remaining in the quarterfinal, things could not have been better for Saurashtra. Or for Cheteshwar Pujara for that matter, whose unbeaten 261 was instrumental in more or less cementing the result for the home team.

At the end of a flaw-less display, the only moment of doubt for Pujara would have occured when he walked back to the boundary, 39 runs short of a triple hundred. With the Indian team in the city ahead of the first ODI against England, there was talk of Pujara joining the squad on Thursday, instead of completing the fifth day of the Ranji fixture.

However, Pujara revealed India coach Duncan Fletcher had told him that a triple hundred was a rare feat and that he should go on to complete it. If indeed Pujara makes his ODI debut on Friday, it will not just be in front of an adoring home crowd at Rajkot, but also on the back of a purple patch.

"Since the day I have got ODI call-up, it's only natural that I have been thinking of making my debut. Everyone keeps telling they want to see me debut, but I will just wait and watch. Selection is not my hand, but scoring runs is, so I'm not thinking too much," Pujara said.

And he has indeed been scoring runs. With the effort on Day Four, he has back-to-back double hundreds, both in second innings. In the Test series against England, even as the rest of the line up struggled, Pujara scored a double hundred and a hundred.

And even though these runs have come in the longer format, there have been phases in these knocks where that would have been more at home in coloured jerseys under lights. His 261 came in a single day on Wednesday, off 275 balls, with the help of 40 fours and a six. His last 50 runs were scored in 32 balls. During his double century in the previous match, his last 50 runs had come of just 17 balls. That helped change perceptions, he admits.

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