Pujara’s simple plan takes Border back in time
ALLAN Border watched Indian iron man Cheteshwar Pujara at the SCG and his mind drifted back to when he was a boy.
"I reckon he learnt the way I learnt and the way that cricket was basically taught to everyone before me,'' Border said.
"You learnt three basic shots - in my case it was the cover drive, the cut and the pull - and sort of squirted it around a bit from there. It was a pretty simple game.
"My worry is how is Australia going to get a Pujara? Would he get a game if he was coming through our system? I'm not sure.
"I like the way he has about four gears in his batting.''
Border noted the majority of under-17 and under-19 cricket in Australia is limited overs with an emphasis on power play which is all good and well.
And he concedes, given the lure of T20 cricket, you cannot blame young batsmen for wanting to put all the flashy sauces on top of the meat and potatoes.
But again he asks ... will that produce a Pujara?
Not saying you need a team full of them but without one of them the SS Australia can resemble a ship without an anchor.
At the mid-point of his career Border once quipped, "the day I fear in cricket is that day we are judged on our 50-over statistics".
It was essentially a cheeky statement about the fact that the 50-over game was as much about rollicking entertainment as personal statistics. But he admits times have changed and batsmen are under more statistical scrutiny to play action cricket.
"When I was playing strike rates meant nothing,'' Border said. "Balls faced was not a big statistic. Now it's a huge thing.''
In many ways, Pujara is a man of Border's soul. He has no tattoos. No bling. He's not into stirring up the opposition with big statements.
Just give him a bat and he's happy.
Like Border, Pujara has no pretension to being your modern chiselled from stone athlete.
He's fit but during his cricket journey he has "done'' both knees.
Yet he is still doing well enough to have scored twice as many runs as any Australian this series.
To watch Pujara bat is to be reminded of the quote from South African pace spearhead Allan Donald about bowling to Mark Waugh - "the ball just never seems to get to him".
When tackling Pujara bowlers get the unnerving feeling that they are the ones doing all the work, pounding in ball after ball but he nibbles, nudges and nurdles without wasting so much as a calorie of effort.
Bowl him a bad ball and he'll put it away like he did three times to the fence in the one over from Marnus Labuschagne. But it's not as if his eyes light up and start spinning like the lemons in the poker machine when he gets a loose ball.
He rarely fully extends himself. Even when he raised his century on day one, there were a few small fist pumps, a kiss of the helmet and raised arms but the lid stayed firmly on the saucepan.
Even when he is at the bowler's end, Pujara looks a man at peace, resting on his bat or even let his bat rest on his pads.
When India won the toss and elected to bat some scribes laughed at the thought of Pujara sitting in the dressing room and thinking "well that's me for the day ..." and set his stall for the long, long journey.
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