Old Motera to new Motera: A lifetime of memories and runs for Cheteshwar Pujara 

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The final time Cheteshwar Pujara performed a Test match on the Motera, in 2012, he was simply 25, clean-shaven, with barely a stubble, not to mention a extra outlined beard that he spots as of late. He had come straight off his engagement in Rajkot, his home-town that’s a four-hour drive away from Ahmedabad, he hadn’t but nailed the No 3 spot. He alongside Virat Kohli, was thrust with the uneasy burden of carrying the legacy of the fab 4 ahead, of which solely Sachin Tendulkar remained.

Eight years on, in 2021, 4 days away from his reacquaintance with Motera, he’s 33, a doting father, a world-beating batsman with tons of in Australia, England, and South Africa, the ninth highest run-getter for his nation, and with little to show to himself or the world (anyway, he by no means conceded the impression that he has something to show to himself or the world). He might measure his life and world within the eight years between the 2 Motera Tests and really feel immensely proud and contended. If he closes his eyes and meditates, he might see these years flash like a blur in entrance of him. From Motera (previous) to Motera (new)—a lifetime of memories.

There was a sudden gush of pleasure in his voice when he seemed again on the 2012 Test. The most evident purpose for that Test to be particular, he says, that it got here simply after he acquired engaged. “That Test will always be a special one, because it was the first I played after I got engaged. It will always have a special place in my heart,” he says.

That he scored a double hundred (206 in 513 minutes with a barely a blemish or shot in anger), in opposition to an assault that includes James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, would undoubtedly make the actual outing much more memorable. It was Pujara’s second hundred, however it was this knock that stamped the self-effacing genius of Pujara, that furnished assurance within the post-Rahul Dravid period.

In many sense, the knock was a precursor, a preview into his strategies that may lead him to the top of the sport. Those dancing ft when he repeatedly glided out to smother the devilish off-breaks of Graeme Swann. Those dextrous palms when he defended the reverse-swinging James Anderson, that sculpted self-discipline and drilled judgement when he left the out-swinging Stuart Broad, that cold-eyed ruthlessness when his eyes met a loose-ball, these reserved celebrations (only a smile, a nod within the course of his teammates and then again to enterprise, then in addition to now) and that uncommon reward of endurance. Even again then, he was a throwback and even now he stays one, unhinged by any temptation to change. A fastened world.

He additionally defined his batting philosophy: “I never like to get out. There’s always a price on my wicket. Even after scoring a double-hundred I never wanted to give away my wicket. That’s the reason why I’m able to score big runs.” Bowlers world over would supply painful testimonials.

A lot has modified within the intervening eight years, but, so much has remained nonetheless. Technically, he has made minor alterations to his sport, like lowering the flourish of his cover-drives, one of his most efficient photographs throughout the double hundred, however the soul stays intact. The coronary heart, grit and greed for the runs.

Cheteshwar Pujara and different teammates at Saradar Patel Cricket Stadium, Motera in Ahmedabad. (Twitter/cheteshwar1)

All these virtues, he believes, would see him by his longest stretch with out a three-figure rating, the final one coming way back to January 2019, the drought spanning 26 innings. He’s not unduly anxious, definitely it has not reached a degree to really feel alarmed.  “I have started well, got off to starts but got out, unfortunately, a few times. The way I am batting, although the three-figures haven’t come, I am hoping it won’t be too far away. As a batsman, what is in my control—my practice, preparation, process—it’s been wonderful. I’m confident of getting a big score very soon,” he explains.

The environment in his return to Motera will probably be starkly completely different too. Once a nondescript, featureless stadium is now a modern-day colosseum. The Test will probably be performed with pink balls and beneath lights—like Pujara, the sport itself can meditate on the modifications it was beheld within the eight years between Motera Tests. In some ways, it’s a leap into the unknown. No one is aware of how the pitch would behave or if there could be dew, whether or not the grass could be trimmed, or whether or not there could be spin and reverse swing.  But all these unknowns make the match of an intensely-competitive sequence all of the extra engrossing.  “With the pink ball, it’s difficult to assess. You expect something, but it could turn out to be something else,” he says.

But Pujara or the Indian crew is just not shedding sleeping over it. “I don’t think it matters a lot when you play one-off pink-ball Tests, we will get used to it as we keep playing more. We’ll have to just play normal cricket, have similar game plans as we had in the previous Test match, depending on the pitch. We’ll just stick to that,” he says.

Neither do the memories of the final innings he performed with a pink ball hang-out him—the Adelaide Test. “In Adelaide, the ball was swinging around and we had one bad session of poor batting that led to that disaster, but overall if you look at the first innings, we were in a dominating position,” he factors out.

Somehow, Adelaide 2020 appears far-off, and Ahmedabad 2012 feels nearer. Between Motera 2012 and Motera 2021. A lifetime of memories. A profession fulfilled. A man contended.

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