Cheteshwar Pujara enjoyed a trip to Legoland with his young family in the days ahead of his Hove debut.

“A day well spent with my favourites,” he wrote on Twitter as he shared some photos with his 2.7 million followers.

The regulars at Hove will have been thinking something very similar as they headed home this evening.

They watched the India star build an innings with all the hallmarks of a master craftsman.

Pujara’s unbeaten second-day century against Durham might be his best knock yet for the county.

That is quite a statement after his double century at Derby and a ton at Worcester.

The bar had been set high but yesterday’s masterclass was, if anything, a step-up again.

It was chanceless, paced to perfection and beautiful to behold.

Pujara has found the County Championship a tougher nut to crack than might have been expected with previous teams but his early form with Sussex has been sensational.

Just the shot in the arm the county needed.

Given a foundation on which to work by Tom Haines’ first-day half century and some diligent nightwatchmanship by Mason Crane, Pujara was steady at first.

No rush. He will let balls go just past his off stump all day if he doesn’t want to play at them.

Then the shots came out. The most pleasing were those cut, guided and glided through the offside behind square.

Or maybe a couple of glorious cover drives.

Or then he would pile all of his frame into a legside pull of anything short and asking to be dispatched.

This is a decent pitch at the 1st Central County Ground.

Pujara arrived a day too late for the opening fixture at home to Nottinghamshire.

He took a look out in the middle when he finally got here and felt like he had missed out.

But he made up for that this time as Sussex moved into the unaccustomed position of dominance midway through a four-day contest.

They have been through very lean times since winning the opening fixture of the Bob Willis Trophy against Hampshire during the truncated 2020 season.

Defeats have gradually become heavier and more inevitable and the start of this injury-troubled campaign has done little to lift last Autumn’s gloom.

But they now have the platform for a turning point.

That upbeat feeling can only be good for the array of youngsters who have known little but adversity since being thrown in at the deep end.

The Durham attack is misisng Chris Rushworth after he was struck by Clark when batting. But then Sussex have a few players out, too.

Pujara’s 128 overnight came from 198 balls and included 16 fours.

But he was not the only plus of the day.


Tom Alsop kick-started his loan stint from Hampshire with 66, including ten fours, and was probably more eye-catching than his Indian batting partner for a while.

Tom Clark then contributed 50 to add to his three wickets.

Both were a little unlucky to depart, Alsop because the ball which got him lbw might well have been passing over the stumps and Clark because the catch in the deep pulled off by a diving Matthew Potts was simply stunning.

The one shame was more people were not there to see it and enjoy it all.

Sussex’s poor results plus some chilly weather appear to have affected crowds at Hove so far this season but Pujara gave the diehards quite a show.

Haines said: “The way he leaves and the way he plays so late are perfect for English conditions.

“His runs have backed up the way he is playing, He is an unbelievable batter.

“He is very humble as a person, very quiet.

“But, of you want to speak to him, he is the easiest man in the world t speak to.

“He is genuinely such a pleasure to have around.”

He certainly served up a day which was well spent at the cricket.