Illustrations: Vasim Maner

While KL Rahul (90 and 51) was declared ‘man of the match’ in the recently concluded Test in Bangalore, he was actually the second highest impact player – behind Cheteshwar Pujara (17 and 92).

Both produced the highest impact performances in their Test career in a memorable Test for India but Pujara was 6% higher impact despite scoring 32 runs less cumulatively in both innings.

While Rahul was consistent – scoring in both innings – Pujara’s knock in the second innings was more crucial given the context of the match.

India had a deficit to erase and Rahul provided a good start. He was dismissed with the home team three runs adrift and Pujara was soon under pressure at 120 for 4 (effectively 33 for 4). Another wicket then would have swung the balance in favour of the visiting team – something that wasn’t so overwhelmingly the case with Rahul’s dismissals. Pujara, therefore, absorbed the most pressure in the match (12% more than Rahul).

From that juncture, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane (52) added 118 runs for the fifth wicket. This ensured India built on the lead, eventually giving their bowlers a target to defend – which they did.

Pujara’s knock, therefore, had a higher value than Rahul’s two innings and turned the tide in India’s favour.

Pujara’s second innings performance is a rare one – walking a knife’s edge with Rahane, where either’s dismissal could have ended the match. Much like another famous partnership in March, 2001.  Perhaps India should play Australia at home only in March?



Karthik Swaminathan