Cheteshwar Pujara scored a gritty 123 in punishing conditions to claw India back into the opening Test in Adelaide on Thursday after Australia seized early control as the top-order crumbled.
Pujara, in trademark fashion, played a cautious but fighting knock facing 246 balls at a trike rate of 50. In the process he passed 5,000 Test runs for his 16th Test century, even as the wickets tumbled around him, including superstar captain Virat Kohli for three.
At the end of a day characterised by poor shot selection, Pujara, on 123, went for a quick single on the second-last ball of the over and was dismissed via a brilliant run-out courtesy a diving Pat Cummins.
A spectacular direct hit onto the stumps was probably the only way for Pujara’s resistance to come to an end as he had proved to be virtually impregnable, navigating pace and pin alike. In fact, he actually scored two sixes – off Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
But credit to Cummins, who displayed remarkable agility despite it being the end of a hot day in Adelaide. The fast bowler had sent down 19 overs during the day, picking the big wicket of captain Virat Kohli and then ending the solid partnership between Pujara and Ashwin.
Pat Cummins had bowled 19 overs. Off a 20-metre run-up. In 39-degree heat at Adelaide Oval.
His body should not be able to do what he did at 6.30pm (AEDT) on Thursday.
He didn’t bank on Cummins getting to the ball with lightning pace, scooping it up with one mit, and then getting a throw away while in the air diving and twisting.
Cummins’ unbelievable throw hit the stumps at an angle where he would have only had one stump visible, catching Pujara short by about a metre.
In what turned out to be the final play of Day 1 of the first Test, Cummins somehow produced what cricket legend Adam Gilchrist labelled the “best run out ever”.
“You will not see a better piece of fielding than that.”
Former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting was spot on when describing Pat Cummins’ stunning run out to finish the opening day in Adelaide.
Cummins channelled his inner Ponting when he produced a brilliant direct hit to end top-scorer Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting knock on 123.