The last time the 28-year-old played for India was in December and he needs to be given time to settle and get back into rhythm.

He lay flat on the ground for what seemed like eternity, even longer than his stay at the crease that had stretched over three sessions. He had faced 159 balls and laboured his way to 46, watching and analysing each of those deliveries with a microscope, before leaving or defending most of them. He hit just four boundaries off the worst of the worst deliveries. Even some rank half-volleys were spared, as he laid the anchor deeper than anyone had, while his partner scored a big hundred.

And then, out of the blue, he tucked the ball off his ribs towards square-leg and took off for a single that never was. He wasn’t quick off his feet and by the time he had launched into a dive at the non-striker’s end, the ball had hit the bullseye. The umpire asked for assistance from his colleague in front of the television, but Cheteshwar Pujara knew he was gone. As he lay flat on his stomach, staring into the grass, he must have hoped the ground would absorb him. What have I done!


(The article has been re-published only after attaining special permission from