He was hit on the hand and shoulder, drilled in the ribs and dropped by a bouncer that struck his helmet in one of the most courageous innings of all time.
He was hit on the hand and shoulder, drilled in the ribs and dropped by a bouncer that struck his helmet in one of the most courageous innings of all time.

Battered, broken and never beaten: India’s bravest warrior

His nickname is 'The Wall', but the better moniker would have been 'The Punching Bag.'

'The Crash Test Dummy'. 'The piece of steak being tenderised'.

Use whatever comparison you like; but ultimately Cheteshwar Pujara produced one of the most courageous innings ever seen by a tourist to Australia.

By the end of it, Pujara had his helmet belted in three places, his ribs, his knuckles, his forearm all brutally examined … or broken.

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And he now he will be forever remembered as 'The Warrior.'

Pujara is an unpretentious, old fashioned fighter and his stoic 56 off 211 balls at the Gabba will live long in history and serve as an example to a young and underperformed Australian batting line-up, what a Test match player is.

Rishabh Pant stole the show in the end with his stunning unbeaten 89 not out, but without the foundation set by Pujara in the face of an unrelenting attack, the unbelievable three-wicket win at the Gabba would have been impossible.

It was one of cricket's bravest innings, in the same mould as Michael Clarke standing up to eye-watering body blows from South African Morne Morkel to score a series-winning century at Cape Town in 2014.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith won plenty of Australian admirers at the SCG back in January 2009, when he stoically walked out to bat trying to save the Test for his team having earlier had his finger broken by a rampaging Mitchell Johnson.


During Bodyline, Englishman Eddie Paynter spent a night in hospital with tonsillitis only to climb out of his sick bed and win an Ashes Test match for his country.

The vicious assault of Pujara was led by Pat Cummins, who struck his first blow when the Indian star took his eyes off a short ball and ducked down, allowing the ball to cannon into his front bicep at the start of the 31st over.

At the time, 'The Wall' was living up to his nickname with just 6 runs off 61 deliveries.

Two overs later and Cummins smacked Pujara on the back of his helmet, marking the first of many moments when the Indian physio made a frantic dash out to the middle to treat his charger.

In the 37th over, Pujara copped a Cummins fast ball flush to the ribs, and didn't even flinch.

Ricky Ponting can't understand where Pujara's enjoyment in batting comes from when he refuses to play his shots - but the former Australian captain had nothing but respect for the guts on display.

"He's a tough boy," said Ponting on Channel 7.


Then it was Hazlewood's turn to dish out the punishment.

Pujara had the trainer out again after getting hammered on the forearm by Hazlewood, but it looked as though he may have actually broken his finger when he copped another frightful blow to the glove which had him hopping around and waving his hand around in agony.

Laying on the floor clutching his fingers, there were doubts over whether Pujara could continue - but like The Black Knight from the Monty Python sketch who has all his limbs sliced off in battle; the batting warrior just refused to yield.

At that point, Pujara was just 26 off 125, but still going nowhere.



Pujara stopped Hazlewood mid run-up as a moth flew into his eye-line. But he regretted it next ball, as Hazlewood took out his anger with a nasty bouncer that followed him like a tracer-bullet and smashed into the grill of his helmet - the force knocking the neck guard to fall off.

"Did you see that one," Hazlewood snarled, Australia frustrated at 'The Wall' that refused to break.

In the end Cummins landed the final blow, thudding into Pujara's pad and claiming him lbw by the barest of margins.

Australia felt they had got Pujara's measure this series, after he had tormented them two summers ago.

But on the final day of the series, Pujara produced the one innings that mattered most.

Originally published as Battered, broken, never beaten: India's bravest warrior