Having done his bit with the willow, Cheteshwar Pujara said India’s strong reply meant the visitors’ young batsmen have proven themselves on the third day of the first cricket Test versus Australia.
After Australia declared their first innings at the overnight score of 517/7, India finished the day at 369/5 with Virat Kohli making his seventh Test hundred and Pujara himself scoring a fine 73.
“We discussed yesterday that we needed to fight back in the match,” said Pujara after the day’s play.
“We talked about what they have scored on this pitch and the kind of wicket this is. We discussed that given the batting line up we have we can surely achieve this.
“Overall we have a very good, young batting line up and it was about proving ourselves. We did that and we are in good position to achieve our targets,” he added.
This was Pujara’s only second half-century in the last 16 Test innings, with the last one coming in England where he had a miserable time on tour.
Thereafter he had done a stint with county side Derbyshire to improve his batting and it finally paid off.
“I have prepared hard for this tour. I believe in preparation and even though I just scored 73 runs, I am quite happy with how it worked out for me. Earlier, at times I have been getting good starts but have not been able to capitalise on them,” said the Saurashtra batsman.
But the intention is to keep trying to score as many runs as possible. You also have to respect the opposition. When I do get out, I analyse what went wrong and what are the areas I can work on to become a better player.”
Pujara is well aware that conditions Down Under are quite different from rest of the world.
“The conditions here are quite different from the ones in Derbyshire. But playing there helped me obviously. When you play there in England, you have fast bowlers swinging the ball all the time because they get help from the wicket.
“You have to be technically correct all the time to survive there and so it does help,” he said.
There was a scary moment in the day, just before lunch, when Mitchell Johnson struck Kohli on the head.
The Australian players all rushed in to check on the batsman who recovered well enough to score a counter-attacking hundred.
“First reaction was that everyone went to Virat and asked him if he is all right. When I went and asked, he first checked the helmet. He was fine and he carried on.
“Later we discussed about that ball and how to play that ball and how he played it. But he did well to forget that ball and struck a crucial century for us. It was fun to watch his innings,” said Pujara.
While Kohli went on to make his century, it was disappointing for Pujara to not reach three digits himself as he was dismissed by Nathan Lyon in an awkward manner.
“I was quite unlucky with that dismissal. I didn’t know where the ball was. Later when I saw the replay, I thought I might have stopped the ball but it went quite fast to the stumps and I didn’t have enough time,” he said.
“Lyon has improved his bowling from the last time I played him in India. He was trying to bowl in the rough and he got some help from there and he was really bowling well.”
At the end of play, India were still trailing Australia’s score by 148 runs. There are two days remaining in the match.
“Most of our batsmen scored runs. The openers got a good start, I scored runs, Virat scored a hundred and Ajinkya Rahane got a fifty as well.
“We always had a partnership in the middle and it was a good thing. They bowled with a plan and you need to have plans on such wickets. But we batted well and we should get some credit.
“The kind of start we have made to this match and the series, we now have certainty in our batting line-up and we can take that into the next innings,” Pujara signed off.