'He's someone Australians love to hate but he's a fantastic player' - Josh Hazlewood reflects on his battles with Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara has appeared in 102 Tests for India so far.
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Over the past few years, both India and Australia have had some thrilling encounters. Especially when it comes to Red-Cherry cricket, we have seen some memorable rivalries on the field. Consequently, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is one of the most competitive Test series in world cricket. Notably, team India has put up some magnificent performances away from home, right in the backyard of the Aussies.
Many bowling and batting greats alike have shown a lot of grit, character and determination during these intense Test battles. In fact, on several occasions, Australia had to toil hard to execute all their plans in place to get that 'highly-priced' wicket of an Indian batter. Moreover, it even boiled down to sledging the batters to disturb their focus and rhythm as part of tactics. Very few players have kept their calm demeanour despite getting sledged on the field. Peeping at the vault, two magnificent Indian legends viz- Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, who remained unperturbed and allowed their bat to do the talking on most occasions.
Interestingly enough, in the modern era of the India-Australia Test rivalry, there is one more player against whom even the world-class bowling line-up of Australia felt helpless because of the virtue of his calmness and solid defending abilities. That Indian great is none other than Cheteshwar Pujara. The old-school yet majestic Test batter showed impeccable patience and skills against Australia. When bowlers stick to a game plan and bowl within their range to keep things tight, many batters do away with their focus and end up throwing away their wickets.
However, calling Pujara a monk on the field will not be wrong. He ensures to dig in hard at the crease and grind out the bowlers, till the time they themselves lose the focus to give away bad balls to pounce upon. Pujara undoubtedly possesses that sheer calibre and class to get under the skin of any bowler. As a result, many Australians just hate to keep coming at him only to get disappointed most of the time.
'There is a "thrill" one gets after dismissing him' - Hazlewood on his on-field battles with Pujara
Speaking of memorable battles, who can forget some intense battles between the Aussie pacer Josh Hazlewood and India's mainstay, Cheteshwar Pujara? Recently, Hazlewood admitted that most Australians have a disliking for the Indian batter as he rarely gives his wicket away. As per the pacer, one has to really earn his wicket rather than hoping to get lucky.
Hazlewood feels the price Pujara puts on his wicket makes him one of the most difficult batters to bowl to. Moreover, he did not hold back from admitting that there's a "thrill" one gets after dismissing him. Furthermore, he added that most Australians just hate him whenever he comes out to bat against them. Despite all the on-field disliking, Josh Hazlewood lauded Cheteshwar Pujara by calling him a fantastic player who proves that Test cricket is the greatest cricket of all.
"He's someone I've had some great tussles over the years, and, in particular, in Australia. He's someone Australians love to hate but he's a fantastic player and I guess that is part of Test cricket. It's a bigger thrill for the bowlers (to dismiss Pujara). I think when you do end up getting his wicket. It means you've put in a lot of hard work. Whether it is the fifth ball he (Pujara) faces... you've already bowled to him in the previous Test matches, you've earned that respect and you've earned that wicket," Hazlewood stated on the RCB podcast on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Australian quick is currently nursing his tendon injury, which has put his participation in the upcoming IPL edition doubtful. On the other hand, Pujara proved his longevity and class by completing a century of Test matches for Team India. He achieved the feat during the recently concluded Test series between India and Australia at home. Although the 35-year-old was not able to produce marathon innings during the four Tests played, he made some valuable contributions. So far, the veteran No 3 for India has amassed 7,154 Test runs with 19 hundreds and 35 fifties from 102 appearances.