Less than 24 hours after Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from the India Test squad, Saurashtra hit an unusual 83-ball 91 in their Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai on Sunday in Ahmedabad.
The Group D elite game ended in a tie, with Saurahtra going 372 for nine in their second innings on the fourth and final day.
Saurashtra were just 48 runs clear when the stumps were pulled but the lack of time meant Mumbai could not aim for an outright win.
The 41-time record winner settled for three points from the game for taking a first innings lead while defending champions Saurashtra scooped one.
Shams Mulani, rolling his slow left-arm spin well, hit career-best numbers at 7/114, adding to his four wickets in Saurashtra’s first innings.
On Saturday, elder sluggers Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were dropped from the two-game Test series against Sri Lanka, which began in Mohali on March 4, after an inconsistent run.
The veteran Pujara managed just 602 runs at 24.08 in 14 Tests last year.
Pujara, who last scored a Test century on the 2018-19 tour of Australia, got out for a duck in the opening innings of that game even as Rahane made a hundred.
PUJARA HOLDS 16 FOUR AND A SIX
However, on the final day of the game, Pujara played freely and found the fence at will while maintaining a batting average of over 100, which is very rare when it comes to the Rajkot man known for his solid defensive play.
In all, Pujara hit 16 fours and a six during his stay at center.
Wicketkeeper-opener Snell Patel (98) missed a century by just two runs after being caught by Shams Mulani bowling veteran seaman Dhawal Kulkarni.
Patel’s opener partner Harvik Desai made 62 as the duo added 163 runs for the first wicket in a much-improved batting effort.
Pujara added 101 runs for the fourth wicket with Vishvaraj Jadeja, whose contribution in the partnership was just 16.
Mumbai had declared 544 for seven in their first innings and then forced Saurashtra after bowling them for 220.
Mumbai: 544/7 declared
Saurashtra: 220 and 372/9 in 116 overs (Snell Patel 98, Cheteshwar Pujara 91; Shams Mulani 7/114).