After a successful Test series against Australia,Cheteshwar Pujara is hopeful of having a decent run in IPL-6 for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Pujara,who suffered an index finger fracture during the final Test against Australia in Delhi,hopes that he will be fit by the last week of April. In a chat with the Indian Express,Pujara talks about his injury,the role he is expecting to play for RCB and what he wants to learn over the two months of the IPL season. EXCERPTS:
What is the status of your injury?
I will take at least two weeks more to return to cricket. When I fractured my finger,during the Delhi Test,physios had advised me that I needed to take at least three-four weeks rest. I hope to be available for RCB by the last week of April but at the same time I dont want to rush things.
You will be missing half of the IPL games. What role you expect to play when you join RCB?
It will be too early to say what role I have to play. In T20 one has to be flexible in terms of batting position. Team requirement changes every game. We have good batting side this season and one thing which we lack was bowling which I think we have this season. We have everything to become the champion side.
You became the second-quickest Indian to 1000 Test runs. What do you feel about how youve started your international career?
Im happy with the way Ive batted in the last three series. Reaching 1000 runs certainly gave me a lot of confidence. I have had a good start and I know that when things are going right for you its important to grab that with both hands. There will be ups and downs in cricket but what is important is to capitalise when things are going right for you.
Did you expect such start?
I never expected it. The idea was to enjoy my game and not think too much. I had some five years of first class experience with me and I knew that when the chance came,I would try not to let it go. My preparation is my hands; I can work hard and there is no point thinking of results.
Out of three series this season,which one gave you the belief that you belong at the international level?
I think the hundred against England in the second Test match in Mumbai gave me a lot of confidence. It gave me the belief that I can do well in tough conditions. The 200 in Ahmedabad gave me the platform but it was Wankhede that improved me as a cricketer. The pitch in Wankhede was turning and it had bounce. (Graeme) Swann and Monty (Panesar) were bowling brilliantly. They are the best spinners in the world. That innings certainly gave me confidence.
Was it much easier handling the Australian spinners?
Yes,because once youve faced top class spinners,automatically you have a lot of confidence within you. As you play more you learn a lot. I just carried the England experience into the next series. Spending time at the crease is important for me. I knew that if I could spend more time,runs would come. I had good start now but consistency will be the key.
For a batsman like you,who has been labeled a Test player,how different is your approach for a Test and a T20 game?
The preparation is the same but your mental frame is different. In Test match cricket I have plenty time to think and strategise. I can take my time in the longer format but in T20 you hardly get any time to think,and few balls to face,with maximum returns expected every ball. But I feel that if you have proper technique then you can survive in any format.
Have you ever batted with a fractured finger before (the second innings in Delhi)?
I havent. I have had cramps or dehydration issues but it was only in the Delhi Test that I first batted with a fractured finger. You dont get too many opportunities like this in your lifetime. I was batting nicely and my team,my country,needed me there in the crease. So I couldnt have said no.
Any area which you want to improve over the coming days?
The next one month when Im back,I want to focus on my fielding. Batting is fine,I know that I have to work everyday but it is very important that I can contribute in fielding too. Saving 20-odd runs in any format helps,especially now when one has to play a role in every department.