After registering his 16th Test hundred and saving the day for India, Cheteshwar Pujara agreed that the Indian top order should have batted better. With the visitors losing half their side for just 86 runs, the right-handed batsman displayed a fighting spirit as he went on to score 123 runs before getting run out on the final ball before stumps on the first day of the first Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Speaking to reporters at the press conference after the day’s play, the 30-year-old said that the top order will learn from mistakes. “We should have batted better but they also bowled well in the first two sessions. I knew that I had to stay patient and wait for the loose balls. The way they bowled, they bowled in the right areas. I also felt that our top order should have batted better but they will learn from the mistakes,” he said. “Hopefully we will bat well in the second innings.”
Speaking on his own performance, the batsman said that the first-class experience helped him in preparing for the mighty Aussie challenge. “As far as my innings is concerned, I had prepared well and overall I have the experience of first-class and Test cricket and that came in handy today,” he said.
He further added that it was a tough wicket for batsmen, but he grew in confidence with more time he spent in the middle. “It has to be different because when you are batting with the tail, you never know how long can they bat. You have to take your chances but you can’t do the same when you are batting with a (top order) batsman. When you are just 1 or 2 down, you can’t play the same shots. Also, the difference is, I had batted for two sessions and I knew what the pace and bounce of the pitch was. I was set, so I could play my shots,” he said.
Not known to play too many aerial shots, the right-handed batsman struck two sixes on course to his ton. The batsman said it was something he prepared for before the start of the series. “To be honest, when I was preparing back home, I was working on a few shots and that was one of them. I wasn’t surprised that I hit it for a six because I had worked on it back home. I had to obviously bat for two sessions to realise that these are the shots I could play and there were some shots which I had to avoid,” he said.
Speaking about his struggles in recent times overseas, Pujara stressed that he has always felt confident playing in tough away conditions. “At times, I have had a bad phase playing overseas but I still feel very confident playing in different conditions and playing county cricket has helped me a lot. Playing in England, conditions are always challenging and when you come to Australia, you know that pitches are slightly better and as I said, I had decent time to prepare before the Test series,” he said.
He further went on to rank this innings as one of his career’s best. “It (Thursday’s knock) is one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five. I can’t rate if it was one of the best but the teammates were appreciating, they were saying it was one of the best,” he said.
Pujara also praised Pat Cummins’ for his brilliant throw at the stumps that caused his run out. “I was a bit disappointed but I had to take that single because only last two balls were left and I wanted to be on strike. I took the chance but Pat Cummins fielded brilliantly,” he said.
By the end of the day, India reached 250/9 with Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah in the middle. Pujara said 250 would be a competitive first-innings total. “I would say it is a decent total because there is enough turn. Ashwin will also come into play. It is not an easy wicket to bat on. Sometimes when you are seeing it on TV, it doesn’t look like it is doing a lot. But when I batted in the first and second sessions, I felt it wasn’t easy to bat on and with our fast bowlers, I will share my experience of what line and length to bowl on this pitch. It is the grass. The oddball is skidding on and the oddball is holding a bit more from the grass. I would say it is kind of a two pace and it is not easy to bat,” he said.