The ongoing Duleep Trophy semi-final one between West Zone and Central Zone in Alur, Karnataka, witnessed a fluctuation of conditions over the first few days. The early stages of the match favored the pacers, with Central Zone captain Shivam Mavi picking up six wickets in the first innings and left-arm pacer Arzan Nagwaswalla impressing with a five-wicket haul in the second innings.
However, as the match progressed, the pitch began to assist spinners on the third day, putting West Zone in a strong position with their 92-run lead from the first innings. Despite a few struggles for West Zone’s batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara displayed his class and resilience in challenging batting conditions. While others like Prithvi Shaw, Priyank Panchal, and Sarfaraz Khan failed to make an impact, Pujara, who was recently dropped from the Indian Test side, showcased his experience and determination.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s century, his 60th in First-Class cricket, not only helped West Zone extend their lead by over 350 runs but also equaled the record of former India captain Vijay Hazare. With 13 boundaries in his innings, Pujara played a crucial role in putting his team in a position of strength.
First-class century No.60. for Cheteshwar Pujara.
— Aadya Sharma (@Aadya_Wisden) July 7, 2023
Unfortunately, Pujara’s elegant knock came to an end as he was run out by Saransh Jain after scoring a well-made 133 runs off 278 balls, including 14 fours and a six. Despite being left out of the Indian Test squad for the matches against the West Indies in the Caribbean, there is still a chance for Pujara to make a comeback if he can consistently deliver similar performances in domestic cricket.
Youngsters like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal have received maiden Test call-ups, but Pujara’s door to the national team remains open.
The Duleep Trophy final is scheduled to commence on July 12 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. As the tournament progresses, players like Pujara will aim to make a strong impact and catch the attention of selectors, hoping to secure a place back in the Indian Test side with consistent and impressive performances.