Young batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Monday said the Australians hardly have an idea about batting on turning tracks as the visitors continued to struggle against the Indian spinners.
After conceding a huge 266-run first innings lead, Australia on Monday lost two wickets in their second innings to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
“I think they need to apply themselves. They don’t know how to go about on the turning tracks. Actually, we knew what their strengths were and we were trying to find out what were their weaknesses. So far we have been successful and our spinners need to continue what they are doing,” a smiling Pujara, who scored his second Test double hundred on Monday, told reporters at the end of the day’s play.
Uppal has been a happy hunting ground for the Saurashtra youngster as he has now scored two big hundreds, having scored 159 against New Zealand last year.
“So far, it has been good playing at this ground. And I think it helped playing against New Zealand and getting a hundred in the past. I knew the wicket well, so it was helpful,” he said.
Pujara said that there was some help for the spinners as well as the odd-ball was turning and jumping.
“Now there is a bit of help for spinners. There is more turn and odd-ball is jumping. So you have to apply yourself to bat well. There is help for the spinners and that’s why the wickets were falling,” he said referring to India losing nine wickets for 116 runs on Monday.
The stylish right-hander said that he wasn’t surprised with Australia’s decision to drop Nathan Lyon from the playing XI.
“(Surprised) Not really, they had to make some changes. I don’t know whether they needed an off-spinner or left-arm spinner for sure but they needed a batsman as well. So Maxwell was a good option for them. Also Lyon went for lot of runs and as a batsman, I was comfortable facing him. I batted well in the past against Swann and Panesar and that helped me against Australian spinners also.”
Pujara claimed that he was not “aware about the record second-wicket stand of 370 runs between him and Murali Vijay.
“I am not really aware about the records. I am happy to have achieved whatever I have so far for the country and I am proud to represent India. I like scoring hundreds — whether it is for country or for a club team. When you play for the country and score hundreds, it’s a different kind of satisfaction,” he said as feeling was very much visible on his face.
Asked to compare with his double century against England at Ahmedabad, Pujara said,”Both knocks were important. You don’t need to compare the two as they were different kind of teams and different situations. That wicket (Motera) was slightly easier to bat on. This wicket was initially difficult to bat on and then there was also a bit of turn. Today, when I was batting there was a little more turn than yesterday.”
Pujara made a very successful comeback to Test arena after a long injury lay-off and for him its satisfying to have overcome the hurdles and reach here.
“I think it’s really satisfying when you are out of the team and out of the game due to injury. Once you come back and start scoring, it’s different kind of feeling. Injuries have taught me a lot. I love playing cricket and when you are not playing, it’s really frustrating. It motivates you to work a lot harder on your game and fitness.”
Asked about how he overtook a flamboyant player like Murali Vijay in terms of scoring rate, he answered, “Initially, we wanted to ensure that we don’t lose more wickets after we lost Virender Sehwag. The ball was doing a bit. Plan was not to lose a wicket. Later on, when I got a hundred, I started seeing the ball well and I wanted to play my natural game. I wasn’t doing anything extra. Its the natural game that I played.”
The hamstring pull did affect his game initially but he felt much better as the innings progressed.
“I pulled my hamstring and yesterday, in the first session, it was even difficult to run and think about my batting. My hamstring was sore. I just wanted to hang around and let the time go. Afterwards, I was much better and concentrated on my batting. The injury is settling down and I am feeling much better now.”
“The plan was to bowl in the rough and the ball was spinning a bit from those areas. Even when I batted, the ball was spinning from the rough.”
Twice in his short Test career, Pujara has now got out playing hook shot but the batsman insisted that he is working on the stroke.
“I think it’s scoring opportunity but you need to play at the right height. I have spoken about it before also the ones above shoulder I need to leave those balls. I still need to learn and I am working on that shot.”