New Delhi: Cheteshwar Pujara was christened India's 266th Test player in 2010 when he came in for an out-of-form Yuvraj Singh in the second Test against Australia.
Almost two and a half years after his debut, and he is second fastest Indian to reach 1000 runs in Tests. Pujara raced to the milestone in his 18th innings, behind Vinod Kambli, who reached the landmark in his 14th innings. Pujara's feat was en route a 204 against Australia in Hyderabad, that set up a 135-run victory for India in the second Test. The win gave India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 4-match series.
Pujara had scored a patient 44 in the first innings before scoring the winning runs in his 8 not out in the first Test that India won by 8 wickets in Chennai.
Indian Test cricket's latest poster boy, Pujara has a highest of 206 against England in the first Test at Ahmedabad in November last year. After his 204 against Australia in the second Test in March, his Test average shot up 67.80 in 11 matches. What is amazing about Pujara's game is his appetite for big runs that is reflected in his 50-100 conversion rate. He has 4 centuries and just one half-century.
In the Test XI after scoring bucket of runs in domestic cricket, Pujara managed just four runs in his maiden innings, he was sent up the order in place of Rahul Dravid in the second innings by MS Dhoni. Pujara scored a fine 72 that helped India win the match on October 9, 2010.
It was only incidental he would ultimately go on to claim the No.3 position owned by Dravid for nearly a decade after his retirement.
The Saurashtra batsman, due to injuries and the presence of Dravid and VVS Laxman in the middle order, couldn't manage too many chances thereafter. But on his return to side in September in 2012, he came up with a stellar century against New Zealand in Hyderabad, the venue, where six months later Pujara scored a match-winning double hundred against Australia.
Earlier, Pujara has the distinction of scoring three triple-hundreds within a month of domestic first-class cricket.
Though he couldn't make much of a mark in the IPL, he has been associated with the Kolkata Knight Riders for the first two years and then moved to Royal Challengers Bangalore.
He is yet to play an ODI for India.
Nicknamed Chintu, the 25-year-old got married to Puja Pabari in February this year.
The following statistics and records, achieved by him in the Hyderabad Test, show a glimpse of what mettle the Indian top-order batsman is made of:
# In terms of Tests taken for reaching 1000 for India, Sunil Gavaskar and Pujara have taken 11 Tests each followed by Vinod Kambli (12), Vijay Hazare (13) and Sadagoppan Ramesh (13).
# Pujara is averaging 83.00 against Australia in three Tests - his aggregate being 332 in five innings, including a double hundred and a fifty.
# Pujara is the seventh Indian batsman to register a double hundred against Australia, joining Sachin Tendulkar (two), VVS Laxman (two), Rahul Dravid, Ravi Shastri, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
# Since November 2012, Pujara has registered three double hundreds and a triple hundred in first-class cricket - 206 not out against England, 203 not out against Madhya Pradesh, 352 against Karnataka and 204 against Australia.
# Pujara is the first Indian batsman to register a double hundred at Uppal, Hyderabad in Tests.
# Pujara is averaging 181.50 at Uppal, Hyderabad - his aggregate being 363 in two innings. He is the only one to hit 50 boundaries or more at this venue - 49 fours + two sixes.
# Pujara's double hundred is the 43rd for India in Tests. Both Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have recorded six double centuries each - an Indian record.
Story first published on: Friday, 16 November 2012 15:55 IST