Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc on Thursday praised Cheteshwar Pujara for digging in deep and scoring a “fantastic” hundred. India were reeling at 86/5 at one stage on the first day of the 1st Test in Adelaide against Australia. But Pujara led the resistance and struck his 16th Test hundred to take India to a decent total at stumps. Speaking to reporters after the day’s play at the press conference, the 28-year-old said, “I thought we bowled really well for four hours, probably pretty well for another hour and probably got it a bit wrong at the end there. Cheteshwar Pujara batted a lot of time. He’s someone who likes to absorb pressure and bat a long time, and credit to him he scored a fantastic hundred today.”
But the left-armer, who took wickets in the day, further added that the hosts feel happy about India reaching 250/9 at stumps. “I think if you asked us at the start of the day if we’d take losing the toss and India being 9 for 250 at stumps I think we’d bite your arm off,” he said.
“I think we’ve planned and prepared really well for this week and had a lot of vision to look at, and how India have played in the past. They did go quite hard (at the ball) but we bowled exceptionally well for the first four hours, especially when the ball got soft and stopped moving around, the scoreboard never got away from us,” Starc said.
Australia were brilliant in the field. Pujara was run out just before stumps for 123, with Cummins successfully attempting a direct hit at the stumps. “It was a special moment for him, especially after a long day in the field. It was a good little effort from him,” Starc said about the dismissal. He further praised Usman Khawaja, who took a one-handed catch at the slips to dismiss Virat Kohli. “Usman Khawaja 3.0 isn’t it? He’s on fire,” Starc said. “He’s made a huge effort over the last nine months I guess and it’s showing in his batting and now it’s showing in his fielding. A great catch and probably one he’ll keep bringing up now as well, so a great effort from him. It was a great catch and hopefully he’s going to have a great couple of days with the bat as well,” the fast bowler said.
Speaking about his own performance, the left-armer said that a change in action has brought more movement in the ball for him. “I’ve been sort of tweaking a few things and trying a few different things with David Saker, looking at perhaps how I bowled in 2015 throughout that World Cup and trying to perhaps get over my front leg a bit more. Little things have worked and hopefully the swing that I’ve got the last couple of weeks hangs around for the summer,” he said.
“Just little changes and little cues I used to have that I probably went away from or unknowingly went away from. But it’s nice to see the ball moving around and I think we’ve all been preparing brilliantly for this Test series with a little period off after the Shield game,” the bowler added.
The bowler further said that he looks for more consistency in the coming Tests. “Between the batters and bowlers our preparation’s been fantastic, so it’s one good day out of a long series. So hopefully, personally I can keep swinging the ball around and being that bit more consistent than I have been in the past,” he said.
“You can’t judge a wicket until both teams have had a crack. One good day isn’t going to win a series. It’s going to go a long way to helping win a Test but it’s nothing to win a series,” he added.