Exactly two years ago, making a comeback into the side in place of injured Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara scored his seventh Test century. No matter how many hundreds he scored throughout his career, this one is likely to end up as one of his top ones. He became the fourth Indian batsman (after Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid) to carry the bat in a Test innings.
It happened during India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2015. Having lost the first match at Galle by 63 runs, India came back strongly to level the series 1-1 at Colombo (PSS) as they defeated the home team by 278 runs. Angelo Mathews, the then Sri Lanka captain, put the Indians in to bat on a green deck in the final Test at SSC.
No team had crossed 400-run mark in the previous two Test matches and, probably, the same was expected on this turf. India lost Lokesh Rahul (2) and Ajinkya Rahane (8) in the first and fourth over respectively. The onus was on the comeback man, Pujara, and his captain Kohli.
Pujara was resolute at one end and wickets continued to tumble on the other. Partly due to rain and partly due to Pujara’s determination, the innings started on Day 1 and ended on Day 3. India had lost half its side on 119 in the 46th over. With a fair amount of resistance from Amit Mishra (59), Pujara enabled India to cross the 300-run mark.
India ended up scoring 312-10 in 100.1 overs. On a wicket where none of the Indian batsmen looked at ease, Pujara score a gritty 145* (289) with the help of 14 fours in a Man-of-the-Match performance.
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