Cheteshwar Pujara, whose warrior-like showing in Brisbane helped India to a historic win, revealed that he decided to cop multiple blows on his body to avoid getting dismissed to Pat Cummins, who was hitting and exploiting the Gabba cracks. At Gabba, Pujara scored the slowest fifty of his career.
India’s historic triumph on the final day of the Brisbane Test will be remembered for Shubman Gill’s audacious and fearless strokeplay and Rishabh Pant’s unwavering determination and belief, but equally - if not more - important to the chase was Cheteshwar Pujara’s grit and grind. Walking in on the back of an early Rohit Sharma dismissal, Pujara ground the Aussie bowlers down from ball one, and scored his slowest ever half-century in Tests to suck all stamina out of the visitors. Yet, more than his runs, it was the Saurashtra star’s bravery and courage that stood out.
With the sun belting down, the Gabba cracks started opening up in the second session of Day 5, meaning there was a lot of variable bounce. A ball rearing off the wicket and taking the glove or the handle looked inevitable, yet Pujara let none of that be. The right-hander, instead, dropped his bat and put his body on the line and took close to a dozen blows, including getting hit on the head, chest, fingers and arms multiple times. He was battered and bruised by the time he walked back to the pavilion, but his unflinching courage had put the side in pole position.
Recalling the hour of madness at the Gabba, Pujara revealed that he decided to cop viscous blows to negate the threat of Cummins, who, according to him, was exploiting the cracks to perfection.
“I mostly got hit from one end and that too against (Pat) Cummins. There was this crack on the pitch around the short- of-length spot from where the ball would just take off. Cummins has the skill to make the ball rear up from there and make it follow you. In case I took my hand up to defend it, there was a risk that I would glove the ball. Considering the match situation and how we couldn’t afford to lose wickets, I decided to let the ball hit my body,” Pujara told Indian Express.
At one point, the sheer amount of blows Pujara took became absurd to the extent that the Australian bowlers seemed genuinely concerned about his well-being. Yet, despite copping blow after blow, all the 32-year-old did was walk away, take a deep breath and get back to doing what he does best - grind the bowlers down at all cost. Pujara revealed that, since his childhood days, he’s not used to taking painkillers, a big reason as to why he has a very high threshold to bear pain.
“From my early days, I am not in the habit of taking pain- killers. That’s why my threshold to bear pain is pretty high. You play for so long, you get used to getting hit.”
Pujara was the Man of the Series in India’s triumph Down Under in 2018/19, but while he did not score quite the same amount of runs this time around, his impact was no less. The right-hander described the historic triumph a ‘very special’ one.
“That time it was the first win in Australia but this one is really special,” said the Saurashtra lad of the series win.