Cheteshwar Pujara couldn’t stop laughing. He laughed through a host of television and radio interviews. At one point, he knelt down, sprinkled some water on his face to conceal the fatigue after batting through most of the hottest Adelaide day this December — and beamed again at the camera.
Behind the smile, and the fatigue, was a set of numbers on an intriguing day of Test cricket: 123 from 246 balls that helped India recover from 41 for four to 250 for nine.
During the mandatory media interaction later, he laughed the loudest when he was asked: “Shall I call you Steve?” That was the name from his days in Yorkshire, where they couldn’t get their tongue around “Cheteshwar”. Cue the retort: “Not really, I would like to be called Pujara.”
The cheeriness reflected the satisfaction of his first hundred in Australia, on the first day of a Test series, his team in a shambles — a response to those who amplified his technical inadequacies overseas. He couldn’t have asked for a better setting to underscore his credentials, seldom doubted but often taken for granted. Like in England, where he was discarded to make way for a top-three of Murali Vijay-Shikhar Dhawan-KL Rahul, a decision that was always destined to backfire.