Cheteshwar Pujara said that the appreciation he is getting for his performances in Australia is a sign that there is now a larger understanding of the process that goes into batting in Test cricket. “I think the players, even the people who have followed this game have understood that there is still a requirement for the way I bat and I haven’t done anything extra,” he said in an interview with News18. “I have just learned from the great batsmen who have played Test cricket in the past. Because of T20 and ODI cricket, players are playing too many shots. It is good to have some shots but at the same time you still need to respect this format of the game and bat accordingly.”
Pujara was man of the series during India’s successful Test tour of Australia. He was the highest scorer with 521 runs which included three hundreds and faced 1258 balls, the most by an Indian batsman in Australia. It was the first instance of an Asian team winning a Test series Down Under.
Although his highest score was 193 which came in the final Test when he batted nearly five sessions, Pujara said that his favourite ton was still the 123 he scored in the first Test in Adelaide. “The reason is it was the first Test match and when you are playing a four Test match series, I think it is always important to start off well,” he said. India’s top order was blown away within the first 21 overs of the first innings and they soon found themselves 86/5. From there, Pujara led a rear guard resurgence and the team had maaged 250 by the time they were all out. The bowlers ensured a first innings and India went on to win the first Test.
“When you are 1-0 up, it is very difficult to lose a series from there. Obviously, you still need to play good cricket for the next three Test matches but I remember when we were 1-0 down in 2017 against Australia, that is the toughest time to make a comeback. As a team, you need to regroup, you need to think a lot on how to win that series. So, for me I think, yeah scoring that hundred in Adelaide in a tough situation is the best hundred I scored.”
Pujara said that the batting group sat together after the first innings of the Adelaide Test and decided that the way forward would be to wear the opposition bowlers out. “All the batters sat together and we made a game-plan that if we bat like this, if we tire them out because they were going with four bowlers, if we can do that then we will always have the upper hand,” he said.
“It wasn’t about playing aggressively. You have to be aggressive in your mind but at the same time as I said, you have to read the situation, you just can’t keep playing shots when the ball is doing a lot. You have to respect the bowler, at the same time make a right game plan, when to attack, when to defend, what strike rate you can play at and you will be successful in the end if you have the right game-plan,” said Pujara.
Pujara’s patient style of batting has attracted comparisons with Rahul Dravid and he said that such talk does annoy him. “Rahul bhai is someone who has scored more than 10000 runs, he is one of my idols and I don’t try and copy him but I try and learn a lot from him. I have spoken to him many times, he is someone who always has very good feedback when it comes to my game. Yeah, so that comparison is not right. I still haven’t scored 10000 runs and he has scored more than 10000 runs in Test and ODIs. I don’t think that comparison is right,” he said.