Cheteshwar Pujara on Monday turned 33 and his teammates, including Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, led the pouring in of wishes for India’s Test batting mainstay.
During the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, Pujara faced a total of 928 balls — the fifth-most by a visiting batsman in Australia in four or fewer Tests.
He scored 271 runs at a strike rate of 33.88, with the help of 29 fours and played a key role in India’s remarkable Test series victory, which included a historic win at the Gabba in Brisbane. As India chased down 328 in the final innings, Pujara endured as amany as 11 blows but put up a “great wall” against the Aussie onslaught.
During the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar series Down Under, Pujara had faced a total of 1,258 deliveries and had scored 521 runs at an average of 74.43 and a strike rate of 41.21 with the help of 50 fours and two sixes.
“Happy birthday pujji. Wish you good health, happiness and more hours at the crease. Have a great year ahead,” tweeted India skipper Kohli.
“He makes playing hours of cricket look easy and is one of the strongest guys I know. Happy birthday Puji,” said Ajinkya Rahane, who led India to their second Test series win in Australia, in an Instagram story.
“He takes body blows, grinds it out in the middle, braves it all & stands tall. 81 Tests, 6111 runs, 13572 balls faced, 18 hundreds. Here’s wishing Team India’s Mr. Dependable Cheteshwar Pujara a very happy birthday,” the official Twitter handle of BCCI said in their wishes.
“Happy birthday to the Wall 2.0 Cheteshwar Pujara. One of the grittiest batters in the game,” said the International Cricket Council (ICC) while extending birthday wishes.
Ashwin posted a video on social media to wish Pujara and termed the Indian batsman “Rock of Gibraltar”. In the video, Ashwin’s daughter can be seen extending birthday greetings to Pujara.
“Many more happy returns of the day Rock of Gibraltar Cheteshwar Pujara, can’t thank you enough for being my bunny though,” Ashwin said.
“Wishing you a very happy birthday Cheteshwar Pujara bhai. May you continue winning games for India and score a lot of runs,” said Umesh Yadav.
“Wishing a very happy birthday Birthday @cheteshwar1 who put his body on the line for the country proud of the brave fight you gave the Aussies! Best wishes for the England series,” tweeted Yuvraj Singh.
Pujara has played a total of 81 Tests for India in which he has scored 6,111 runs. Besides, he has also played five ODIs for the Men in Blue in which he amassed 51 runs.
He will next be seen in action in the four-match Test series against England beginning February 5 in Chennai.
Ravi Shastri calls for reduction in number of T20Is played to counter scheduling issues
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has called for a reduction in the number of T20Is played to counter the raging issue of scheduling in international cricket. The month of July 2022 has seen the issue of hectic scheduling in cricket and prioritisation of franchise T20 leagues being reignited.
South Africa chose to pull out of a three-match ODI series against Australia in January 2023 to ensure their players would be available for the upcoming new domestic T20 competition in the country.
Earlier this week, England’s Test skipper and all-rounder Ben Stokes announced his retirement from ODI cricket after the first match against South Africa at the age of 31, citing the “unsustainable” workload by playing in all three formats.
With speculations coming that the upcoming Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-27 cycle will have more of T20I action, Shastri, currently in United Kingdom as a member of the Sky Sports commentary team, feels that bilateral T20Is should be reduced by a huge amount to free up the hectic international calendar.
“I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There’s a lot of franchise cricket which can be encouraged, whichever country it’s in – India, West Indies, or Pakistan. You play less bilaterals and then you get together for the World Cups. So, the emphasis on ICC World Cup events becomes paramount. Then people look forward to them,” said Shastri in an episode of the Vaughany and Tuffers podcast.
Shastri, a former India all-rounder and member of the 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team, further asked for creation of two divisions in Test cricket in a bid to safeguard the future of the longest format of the game.
“I think two tiers are needed, otherwise Test cricket will die in 10 years time. You need six teams at the top, and then six teams in the second and then you qualify. And those top six play against each other more often because of the corridor you open up by having less bilateral T20 cricket and just franchise cricket. That’s the way all formats of the game can survive.”
Nation needs President who can protect constitution: Yashwant Sinha
Joint opposition candidate for Presidential poll, Yashwant Sinha on Friday said the nation needs a president who can protect the Constitution of the country.
Sinha was in Gujarat to seek support for himself. He appealed to the MLAs and MPs to vote for the candidate “who can protect the Constituency of India”.
He said the nation was passing through a serious constitutional and economic crises and at such a point of time the nation needs a president who does not toe the party line at the cost of national interest.
“There is an undeclared emergency in the country, even the media does not have the liberty to practice the profession freely when a check and balance is must for the country. So MLAs and MPs should vote in accordance with their conscience,” said sinha.
The former minister said he was confident of getting votes of the MLAs and MPs belonging to the Congress, BTP and NCP in the state.
He said he disagreed with the political theory that if a person is from a specific community and one holds a constitutional post it helps in uplifting the community. Citing the example of NDA presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, he said,”They are projecting her as a tribal representative, she was the Governor of Jharkhand for six year, yet tribals’ conditions have not improved.”
“Though Ram Nath Kovind was president, see the condition of the community in his state. Nothing has changed, on the contrary they have suffered a lot,” said Sinha.
He, however, made it clear that he did not mean that a person should confront the central government.
He said, “Communalism is spreading because the state is backing it because communalism is consolidating the vote bank for them.”
Sinha said he was shocked to find that even today section 144 is implemented in Gujarat and questioned the state who it was afraid of. He said, “Even for social functions or events the people of Gujarat are asked to seek permission which is anti democracy.”
I have seen glimpses of what this hockey team can achieve: Women’s coach Schopman
India women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman has said she has “seen glimpses” of what her players can achieve following her side’s 3-4 loss in a hard-fought Pool B match of the FIH World Cup 2022 against New Zealand here late on Thursday.
Despite going down to the Kiwis, India are still in contention for a quarterfinal spot after finishing third in their pool. They will face Spain, who finished second in Pool C, in the crossover match on July 10 for a place in the last-eight.
Schopman also attributed the loss to New Zealand to defensive frailties and the rivals’ clinical finishes.
“I am proud of our fight as we worked really hard to stay in the game. Unfortunately, we made some defensive mistakes and New Zealand were very clinical in their finish,” said Schopman.
“There are a lot of things to learn from this game but I have seen glimpses of what we can do. Especially, our performance in the second half showed that we can play some good hockey,” she added.
For India, Vandana Katariya (4th munite), Lalremsiami (44th) and Gurjit Kaur (59th) were on target. The Indian team started the game aggressively and put pressure on their opponents in the opening minutes of the match.
But the Kiwis fought back after they earned a penalty corner and Olivia Merry didn’t miss out on the opportunity of slotting the ball into the goal in the 12th minute.
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