shots. A hapless Cummings was even pushed into intimidating Pujara with a series of bouncers, three on the trot, with the third being signalled a no-ball for height, causing a minor stoppage in play.
But as wickets began tumbling at the other end, he decided to change gears. Few batsmen can score at a rapid pace without really looking gung-ho in their approach like Pujara can. He even brought out a few uncharacteristic shots from his repertoire, a reverse scoop shot off off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine, a glide over the slips for four off Cummings and a few delicate lap sweeps.
Pujara raced to 273, having scored 38 runs off his previous 26 balls. Then Zaheer Khan and Bhargav Bhatt fell off successive deliveries, leaving Pujara with just Ishwar Pandey for company.
It’s here that Pujara was almost Laxmanesque when batting with the tail, facing 23 off the next 25 deliveries of the partnership, racing to the cusp of his triple-century. Then Cummings pitched one slightly full and wide, which Pujara smashed through the covers, taking him to 303, before declaring the India A innings with a lead of 296 runs. His last 71 runs came off just 55 balls. Having come into this match on the back of three failures, his series average jumped from 15 in three innings to 117 in four.
The run-machine, who never tires of batting, provided another example of his prime fitness as he was immediately back on the field, leading his side in their quest to level the series. And by stumps, Zaheer Khan,Dhawal Kulkarni and Pandey snared a wicket each to leave the visitors at 116/3 with a day to bat out, save the match and win the series.
Brief scores: WI A 268 & 116/3 (N Deonarine batting 44, A Fudadin batting 36; I Pandey 1/11) vs India A 564/9 decl (C Pujara 306*, G Gambhir 123; A Nurse 3/106)
Making the Don-Grade
Cheteshwar Pujara has now scored six triple centuries, including three in First-Class cricket, to go equal with Don Bradman. While all of Bradman’s six triple tons were made in First-Class games, Pujara’s half-a-dozen