The second India-Australia Test at Delhi will be Cheteshwar Pujara’s 100th Test match. A number of his fellow India players wished their popular teammate well ahead of this remarkable achievement.
In a special feature released by BCCI.tv, a number of Indian players paid their tributes to Pujara.
Rohit Sharma, the India skipper, called Pujara’s achievement special, adding that it had “taken a lot” for the middle-order batter to get there.
“I would like to congratulate Pujara on making it to the 100th Test match for the country. It’s a big, big achievement, not many people go on to achieve what you have done for your country. So big congratulations on that.
"It has taken a lot; I know from you, your body to get there. But you’ve done really well to get there. We are very proud of your achievement. As is usual for any sportsman, there have been many ups and downs but you’ve managed to come through it, which is a good thing.”
'A journey full of hard-work, persistence & grit' 🙌 🙌— BCCI (@BCCI) February 16, 2023
𝗗𝗢 𝗡𝗢𝗧 𝗠𝗜𝗦𝗦: Wishes & tributes pour in as #TeamIndia congratulate the ever-so-gutsy @cheteshwar1 ahead of his 💯th Test 👏 👏
Watch the SPECIAL FEATURE 🎥 🔽 #INDvAUS https://t.co/d0a2LjFyGh pic.twitter.com/lAFpNcI7SF
India coach Rahul Dravid praised Pujara’s ability to smile through this road to 100 Tests.
“Puji from the first time that I saw you in a Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka, where you scored runs and beat Karnataka, which has become a recurring theme I guess, it’s been just a pleasure to see you evolve over the last 10 years,” Dravid added.
“Everyone speaks about your hard work, your determination, and your courage. I think to be able to play 100 Test matches requires a lot of stubbornness and single-minded determination. You’ve gone through a lot and you’ve gone through this journey with a smile and always putting the team first, and I think that is something that you can be proud of. All the best, I hope you really enjoy the five days.”
India star batter Virat Kohli called Pujara’s journey “full of grit and comebacks”.
“This is a special day for a very, very special guy. Puji congratulations on your 100th Test, you’ve had a long journey. A journey full of hard work, persistence, grit and comebacks, and that’s what you’re known for. I wish you all the best, enjoy the moment, it’s a big moment not just for yourself but also for your family and people who’ve supported you throughout your journey. It's a big achievement to play for India for so long.”
Virat added that his favourite knock was Pujara’s 132 at Southampton.
“In 2018, all the batters had gotten out and you stuck in there and got 120 or 130 odd. You played in a way that will always be special to me and will always stay in my memories.”
Ravichandran Ashwin anointed Pujara the “White Walker” of Indian cricket.
“First, of all congratulations to the “White Walker” of Indian cricket. He’s just been standing there. I’m not sure how many other players from India will go on to play 100 Tests. It’s a massive, massive achievement.”
Ashwin added that Pujara’s ability to stay at the crease made the job for a lot of batters easier.
Mohammed Siraj remembered Pujara’s Brisbane knock, during which the batter braved some brutal Australian fast bowling, and saw off the new ball which helped India win the Test.
Other India players, too, reminisced about Pujara’s habits on and off the field.
Axar Patel and Jaydev Unadkat, who belong to Pujara’s home state Gujarat, recounted Pujara’s hilariously bad record at Playstation and wished that the player became a better loser in the PlayStation battles with his team-mates.
Ishan Kishan felt that he was very lucky to have not faced Pujara in domestic games, otherwise, the batter’s propensity to play long knocks wouldn’t have augured well for the Jharkhand keeper.
Kuldeep Yadav praised Pujara’s ability against spin, remembering a Duleep Trophy encounter where Pujara scored a double hundred and forced the young spinner to bowl over 45 overs.
The Saurashtra batter has scored 7021 runs at an average of 44.15. He has scored 19 centuries and 34 half-centuries in 169 innings. His “tough runs” have always been looked at as a valuable asset by the team, and the side would hope that the veteran batter continues performing for years to come.