For all his skills as a proper Test batsman, there was always a sense of suspicion around Cheteshwar Pujara as a player in overseas conditions. His sheer mental grit and the ability to trust his own skills and shunt out external factors have made him an invaluable member of this Indian Test team.

In South Africa, England, and now in Australia, Pujara is showing the world the importance of grit in an age when stroke-making is taken at face value and his importance to this Indian batting line-up is only increasing with each passing innings.

This year has been different for Pujara. After being overlooked for the IPL season, he headed across for a county stint in Yorkshire and despite having a mixed-bag, he found the way to approach conditions and it has helped him become the safe bet for India at the number 3 position.

After playing a match-winning innings in Adelaide, Pujara looked in control from the word go in the third Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Batting in his own bubble, he was never ruffled and kept accumulating runs. On the second morning, his footwork was extremely decisive against Nathan Lyon and one such stroke of authority down the ground notched up his 17th Test ton.

Prolific run of form

Cheteshwar Pujara
File picture of Cheteshwar PujaraReuters

This was his 3rd century this year and all such efforts have come in overseas conditions. He has now 7 scores of more than 50 in a calendar year in away Tests. He is joint 3rd in this aspect and is the joint 2nd as far as an Indian batting is concerned.

His conversion rate has been impressive and now holds the record for the highest conversion rate at the number 3 position for players who have a minimum of 10 scores of more than the score of 50. In comparison, Rahul Dravid's conversion rate in 135 matches reads 35.90 per cent and VVS Laxman's conversion rate was 33.33 per cent.

Indian captain Virat Kohli looked in control at the other end and along with Pujara, he put up 150 runs for the 3rd wicket. This was their 4th such partnership. Also, this was the 3rd time an Indian pair had posted 150 runs for the third wicket.