by IANS |
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Through the second Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test between India and Australia at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here, top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara entered an elite list of playing 100 Test matches for the country, becoming the 13th Indian player to reach the milestone.
Ahead of day one's play on Friday, legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar felicitated Pujara with a heartwarming speech in the presence of the Test team as well as the right-handed batter's father Arvind, wife Puja and daughter Aditi.
"When we are playing as kids growing up, we all, whether we are playing at home, in streets or maidans, we all dream to play for India. When we play a Test for India, it's an unbelievable feeling. It's a heady feeling which you want to do over and over again. To be able to do that, you need to do a lot of hard work, plenty of determination, self-belief, lift yourself up from lean periods and then focus on getting the job done."
"When you come out to bat, it is not just the bat you are carrying along with you, but you are taking the India flag with you. When you go out to bat, you put your body on the line for India. You have taken blows, you have got up and you have made the bowlers earn your wicket. Every single run made by you has been a big, big plus for India."
"You are a role model for what determination, self-belief and dreams can do. Many congratulations to you on getting the 100th Test match and welcome to the 100 Test matches club and I wish and pray that you become the first Indian to score a big hundred in your hundredth Test match and lay foundation for yet another win here in Delhi. Congratulations and all the very best," said Gavaskar in his speech to Pujara, and presented him with a special cap to mark the occasion of playing his 100th Test match.
Since his Test debut in October 2010 which ironically came in the second Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against Australia at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Pujara has emerged to be a mainstay in India's batting order in the longest format of the game. As of now, Pujara has played 99 Tests, amassing 7021 runs while averaging 44.15, including 19 centuries and 34 half centuries.
"Thanks Sunny bhai, (it's an) honour to receive it from you. Legends like you have inspired me to do special things while playing for the country. So, it is truly special to receive this from you. As a young cricketer, I always dreamt of playing for the Indian team, but I never thought I'd be playing 100 Test matches for India, so it is a special moment for me," said Pujara in his speech, which was met by huge cheers from the sparse crowd.
Pujara is also the only Indian batter to face 500 deliveries in a Test innings, which again came against Australia in the third Border-Gavaskar Trophy match in March 2017 at Ranchi where he scored a gigantic 202 off 525 balls. In that innings, he surpassed the record of Dravid, who had made 270 off a mammoth 495 balls against Pakistan at Rawalpindi in 2004.
"I believe Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game and it tests your temperament, character; there are so many similarities between life and Test cricket. If you can fight through the tough periods, you always come out on top. I feel really proud and to all the youngsters out there, I would encourage you to work hard and strive to play for the Indian Test team."
"Thanks to my family, wife, father, entire family, for the friends and support. Thanks to the BCCI, media, and my team-mates and support staff for the constant support. Thanks to my team-mates and to the support staff for being part of this beautiful journey. I hope to continue contributing to the team's success," he concluded.
Pujara was also given a guard of honour by the Indian team when they took the field as Australia won the toss and pushed them to bowl first in the second Test.