Cheteshwar Pujara is enjoying the joys of fatherhood, as he became father to a beautiful girl last week. Pujara, who had a successful series against South Africa; will travel to England to play for Yorkshire in English County cricket, in order to prepare for England’s tour later this year.
The Hindustan Times had a chat with Cheteshwar Pujara and here are the excerpts from the interview.
Talking about his success in South Africa, Pujara said, “What ultimately matters is the team’s victory. Sometimes you have to assess the situation and conditions and play. Prime example was my fifty in the third Test (Johannesburg). It was as good as scoring a hundred or 150 on that kind of wicket. It allowed us to post a total that was good enough on that pitch. A lot of credit goes to our bowlers. At the same time, the way we batted was also a big achievement.”
Talking about having just one century outside Asia, Pujara said, “Not really. I’ve been scoring runs when it matters. Sometimes when you go abroad you can’t score a hundred in every Test, especially in challenging conditions. In this series, there was just one century and not many went past fifty. We were playing on tough pitches. At the same time, I was a little unfortunate in the second Test. I was run out twice. That is something I want to forget. But I was disappointed, I was batting so well. I just have to accept that.”
Talking about his game changing dismissal in Cape Town, Pujara said, “Maybe, (but) one particular thing can’t win you the Test. At the same time, yes, things could have been different. But it’s very difficult to pinpoint one thing and say we might have won the Test. But I would say the first two Tests, we had a fair chance of winning. We had to build a partnership of more than 50 in the first two Tests and that didn’t happen. That’s why we lost. The lower middle order batted really well. If we had one or two partnerships of more than fifty from the top six or seven, we would have had a fair chance of winning in Cape Town and Centurion. Overall, we fought really well and that’s a big positive for us.”
“I was happy how I was facing their bowlers. I was comfortable. I had a clear plan in the sense I had proper preparation, not just as an individual but also as a team. That was the reason I was able to face them with a lot of ease. Apart from that bad shot in the first innings (in Cape Town), I was really comfortable. I could read their game plans and play accordingly,” Pujara said about playing in South Africa.
Pujara added, “I’m not talking about the fans, but when it comes to the Indian team people do appreciate when you stick to a plan. Even teammates and the management appreciate I am contributing to the success. Sometimes even if you don’t score runs you have a role to play, and I am playing that. If it helps the team wins Tests then sometimes I am ready to sacrifice my scores.”
Talking about what a young player should do about batting with patience, Pujara pointed out, “It’s too early to say. Lot of people want to play IPL, the shorter formats. That might be why most of them are stroke players and they have been successful in different formats. When it comes to Test cricket, one has to have a clear game plan, you have to be correct technically. Many of them will eventually learn that these are the things they need to adjust to. One also has to stick to his strengths.”
“There is nothing much I can do about it, but at the same time I’m very hopeful of playing different formats. Whatever I can do as a batsman and whatever things I need to improve on to play different formats, I’m doing. If you look at this Vijay Hazare Trophy, I was scoring well. Whenever the situation arose, I was able to accelerate,” Pujara said about not getting selected in IPL and limited overs Indian team.
Pujara called it a very good thing to play in just one format, saying, “I feel sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise. When you are playing just one format, you have to wait and keep preparing for Tests. If you are not playing different formats, you are not in touch with international cricket. So, when you play Tests, you need to make sure you play domestic cricket. It becomes really hard because sometimes when you are at home, you don’t get quality practice and preparation. You still have to motivate yourself and find ways to prepare.”
“To score runs in difficult conditions, as a batsman that’s the most challenging task. If the wicket is flat, any batsman can score. If you are scoring on a challenging pitch, that’s the most important thing from a team’s perspective,” Pujara said about the thing he prides in his batting.