Cheteshwar Pujara, pigeonholed as a Test specialist, hammered his maiden Twenty20 century on Thursday, February 21, at a strike-rate of 163.93. But as much as it surprised onlookers, Pujara was nonchalant.
The 61-ball 100*, laden with 14 fours and a six, came nearly 12 years from his debut in the format, but it still wasn’t enough to help his Saurashtra side beat Railways in India’s domestic T20 competition, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
But it did break some stereotypes. “I am not surprised by this century, but I am sure many people are,” Pujara told ESPNcricinfo. “I knew this one would come at some stage in my career, and this is the right time. I have been really batting well. Good form in Test cricket can help you bat well in shorter formats.”
The hundred may have come in the shortest format of the game, but Pujara’s methods were old-school. In fact, he compared his knock to Kane Williamson’s batting in T20 cricket, and said he looked up to the New Zealand captain.
“The prime example I could give you is of Kane Williamson. If you look at his T20 batting – he even got an Orange Cap in the IPL (2018) – most of his shots are cricketing shots. That is what I look up to,” Pujara said.
“I like to make runs similarly. If I have to play unorthodox shots, if need be at some stage, then I will work on it if the format requires that. I am not against that, but my success has been with cricketing shots, and I will stick to that as long as I can.”
And while this knock will certainly help change perceptions about the 31-year-old – he went unsold in the last two IPL auctions after having played for three teams from 2010 to 2014 – Pujara isn’t too fussed.
“I never play to prove a point to someone else,” he said. “But with such results, if I can carry on like this, people will start noticing. Even franchises might take notice. If I am still not picked [for the IPL] I will carry on doing things I am doing. I don’t want to change anyone’s perceptions.”