After a series of victories in white-ball games, it’s time for Team India to test their potential in the longest format. Rohit Sharma & Co are set to face the Aussie challenge as the much-awaited Border-Gavaskar Trophy commences on February 9. India are the defending champions, having won the last three editions of the tournament – 1 at home and two in Australia. At the same time, the series also holds utmost importance for the hosts who need to win it by a 3-1 margin to consolidate a berth in the World Test Championship finals.
A star-studded Indian side will be in action against Australia in Nagpur on Thursday. All eyes will be on Virat Kohli who hasn’t scored a Test ton since 2019. However, former captain and ex-BCCI president Sourav Ganguly believes that the role of Cheteshwar Pujara will be equally important.
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A couple of months ago, Pujara got a hundred in the Chattogram Test against Bangladesh. Indeed it was a commendable knock by the Saurashtra batter but it’s also a fact that he notched the triple figures after almost three years, since scoring a 194 not-out in Perth Test in 2019.
In an interview with Sportstar, Ganguly said the Australia series will be crucial for Pujara, given his draught of Test tons against big teams.
“He’s playing his 100th Test in Delhi and that’s a great achievement. He will be the 13th Indian to play 100 Test matches and he totally deserves it. But he also needs to be at his best because, after the last three years, even he needs a Test hundred against good attacks. It will be a big series for him,” said Ganguly in an interview with Sportstar.
After getting dropped from the Sri Lanka Tests last year, Pujara was roped in by the Sussex County club for the 2022 season. He had a brilliant campaign with 1,094 runs at a huge average of 109.40 in just eight appearances. The remarkable performances on English soil paved his way back into the India Test team but he couldn’t make an immediate return among runs.
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Towards the end of the year, Pujara found his mojo back in the Bangladesh Test with an unbeaten 102 which was also his fastest ton in the longer format.
Back in 2018-19, when India won their first-ever Test series on Australian soil, Pujara bagged the Player of the Series award for his heroics in the series. He finished the tour as the leading run-scorer, amassing 521 runs from seven innings, scoring at a healthy average of 74.43.
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