Cheteshwar Pujara says batting at No 3 was not a challenge

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara feels the Indian Premier League (IPL) also helped him understand various facets of the game PTI

By CricketCountry Staff

Mumbai: Sep 5, 2012

Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored his maiden Test century in the just-concluded Test series against New Zealand, feels batting at No 3 position was not a major challenge for him.

He said, “I was told before the game that I will be batting one-drop but it is not a new position for me. Saurashtra’s batting has improved significantly in recent years. When I started out though, I would find myself facing the new ball very often despite coming in at Nos 5 and 6 mainly.

“So I didn’t have to worry about making any adjustments to bat at No.3. I have even opened in the past for my club team Indian Oil. And in the West Indies too, I invariably walked in to face the new-ball with the scores reading 10 for 3 or 30 for 3.

“When you have been around in first-class cricket for as long as I have, you do become quite adept at handling the second new-ball.”

Pujara, who was the captain of India A tour to Caribbean said the tour was of immense help in improving his batting.

He was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “The conditions over there were challenging and it was an ideal situation for me to judge my form. Being the captain of the team also helped greatly as the role demanded extra responsibility.

“The pitches that we played on against the West Indies helped me strengthen various facets of my batting. I believe that my preparation during the IPL for that tour held me in great stead, and made me a more compact batsman.”

The Saurashtra batsman feels the Indian Premier League (IPL) also helped him understand various facets of the game.

He said, “The changes were not only technical but were centered more around understanding my batting better. I remember AB de Villiers explaining the many advantages of playing the ball as late as possible.

“Mark O’Donnell, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s batting coach, also had some advice about how I should keep my head still for as long as possible while facing each ball. That the secret was to keep my head as straight as possible at the point of delivery.”

He further credits his father, who helped him to make few adjustments in his batting.

” I was having a slight problem with my back-lift and my father (Arvind), who is my coach, showed me various videos and pictures of my past knocks, which helped me regain my natural stance. My success is a result of being able to implement these tips.”

Pujara who scored a century in the first Test, according to many experts is already a good replacement for the just-retired stalwart Rahul Dravid. But the Indian batsman disagrees.

He said,” You can never replace guys like Rahul bhai and Laxman bhai. I have never thought about being anyone’s replacement.I never go out to bat thinking or aiming to achieve what Rahul bhai did.

“It’s too early to think along those lines, and I can’t even dream now of achieving what he did. He served the country for 16 long years and I have not even been part of the Indian team for 16 months yet. My immediate priority is to replicate my performances in the Ranji Trophy at the international level.”

Pujara was happy to score his maiden Test ton but said his journey has just begun and needs to continue striving.

He said, “When I went to bat, the only thing I was focusing on was to tackle each ball. The enormity of the maiden hundred didn’t sink in till I reached the hotel that evening. Every cricketer dreams of scoring his first-ever Test century, and I had just achieved that feat.

“But I told myself that this was just my beginning. I was happy but far from being fully satisfied. There was no particular celebration. I just slept well. I wanted a big score. I didn’t even bother to check my phone that evening.

“Next morning, I found hundreds of missed calls and congratulatory messages. Funnily enough, some of those missed calls were recorded at the time I was still batting.”

Pujara said he was touched by Indian captain s gesture after the Test series was won.

“He told me that as I have scored a hundred, I should hold the cup. It was a nice feeling,” said Pujara.