Cheteshwar Pujara is a man of few words. So when he was dropped for India's first two Tests against Sri Lanka in 2015, he didn't whine. Instead, when he got an opportunity in the third Test, where he was asked to open, the Saurashtra batsman's answer to his critics and the team management was an unbeaten 145.
He also didn't make a fuss when India captain Virat Kohli (in)famously played Rohit Sharma instead of Pujara in the third Test of the West Indies tour in 2016. There were murmurs that Kohli had a problem with Pujara's strike rate. However, former Indian coach Anil Kumble clarified the rumours and said Pujara needed to work on his intent.
Without saying anything, he decided to play domestic cricket to rediscover his touch. And boy, did he find it!
In India's long home season in 2016/17, Pujara amassed 1,316 runs at an impressive average of 62.66. While, he had improved his "intent", but his natural game allowed the Kohli-led side to push for a win in Ranchi (it ended in a draw, though) against Australia. His marathon 525-ball 202-run knock not only impacted the Ranchi fixture but also the series. Bowling 210 overs is no mean task and the Australian bowlers were understandably drained of all energy ahead of the 4th Test. It would not be wrong to say that his mammoth innings turned the tide of the series.
He preserved that form and brought it along with him to Sri Lanka to continue his purple patch in the Island nation. He became the joint third fastest Indian to score 4,000 runs and is one of the four Indians to have achieved this feat in his first 50 Tests.
With Pujara stamping his authority like never before, it is a perfect time to relive his journey to 50 Tests and 4,000 runs in graphics.
With inputs from Umang Pabari