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

The final time Cheteshwar Pujara performed a Take a look at 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 lately. 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 three 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 a whole lot 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 may measure his life and world within the eight years between the 2 Motera Checks and really feel immensely proud and contended. If he closes his eyes and meditates, he may see these years flash like a blur in entrance of him. From Motera (outdated) to Motera (new)—a lifetime of recollections.

There was a sudden gush of pleasure in his voice when he regarded again on the 2012 Take a look at. The obvious motive for that Take a look at to be particular, he says, that it got here simply after he acquired engaged. “That Take a look at will all the time be a particular one, as a result of it was the primary I performed after I acquired engaged. It’ll all the time have a particular place in my coronary 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, nevertheless it was this knock that stamped the self-effacing genius of Pujara, that furnished assurance within the post-Rahul Dravid period.

In lots of sense, the knock was a precursor, a preview into his strategies that will lead him to the top of the sport. These dancing toes when he repeatedly glided out to smother the devilish off-breaks of Graeme Swann. These dextrous fingers 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 after which again to enterprise, then in addition to now) and that uncommon present of persistence. Even again then, he was a throwback and even now he stays one, unhinged by any temptation to alter. A hard and fast world.

He additionally defined his batting philosophy: “I by no means prefer to get out. There’s all the time a value on my wicket. Even after scoring a double-hundred I by no means wished to offer away my wicket. That’s the explanation why I’m in a position to rating large runs.” Bowlers world over would supply painful testimonials.

Loads has modified within the intervening eight years, but, rather a lot has remained nonetheless. Technically, he has made minor alterations to his recreation, like decreasing the flourish of his cover-drives, considered one of his best pictures throughout the double hundred, however the soul stays intact. The guts, 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 frightened, definitely it has not reached a degree to really feel alarmed.  “I’ve began effectively, acquired off to begins however acquired out, sadly, just a few occasions. The best way I’m batting, though the three-figures haven’t come, I hope it received’t be too distant. As a batsman, what’s in my management—my apply, preparation, course of—it’s been great. I’m assured of getting an enormous rating very quickly,” he explains.

The environment in his return to Motera shall be starkly completely different too. As soon as a nondescript, featureless stadium is now a modern-day colosseum. The Take a look at shall be performed with pink balls and underneath lights—like Pujara, the sport itself can meditate on the adjustments it was beheld within the eight years between Motera Checks. In some ways, it’s a leap into the unknown. Nobody 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.  However all these unknowns make the match of an intensely-competitive collection all of the extra engrossing.  “With the pink ball, it’s tough to evaluate. You count on one thing, nevertheless it may turn into one thing else,” he says.

However Pujara or the Indian group isn’t shedding sleeping over it. “I don’t assume it issues rather a lot whenever you play one-off pink-ball Checks, we’ll get used to it as we preserve taking part in extra. We’ll have to only play regular cricket, have comparable recreation plans as we had within the earlier Take a look at match, relying on the pitch. We’ll simply follow that,” he says.

Neither do the recollections of the final innings he performed with a pink ball hang-out him—the Adelaide Take a look at. “In Adelaide, the ball was swinging round and we had one unhealthy session of poor batting that led to that catastrophe, however total should you take a look at the primary innings, we have been in a dominating place,” he factors out.

One way or the other, Adelaide 2020 appears distant, and Ahmedabad 2012 feels nearer. Between Motera 2012 and Motera 2021. A lifetime of recollections. A profession fulfilled. A person contended.

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