After impressive shows in domestic cricket, Cheteshwar Pujara has shown he can be India’s No 3 batsman | EPS
Cheteshwar Pujara warranted notice first with the sheer weight of runs in domestic cricket, season after season with constancy, then with the more noticeable felicity of strokes and the smooth transition into Test matches.
But the making of Pujara the complete batsman, a process that began a decade ago in the courtyards of the middle-class Pujara household in downtown Rajkot, is a story in progress. He isn’t obsessed with his technique, but is wary of technical adjustments and fine-tuning that could enable him deal with challenges and varying conditions.
Prior to his tour to West Indies with the A team, he discussed his game at length with South Africa batsman AB de Villiers and Bangalore Royal Challengers batting coach Mark O’Donnell.
“The IPL gave me the opportunity to interact with AB. He advised me to wait for the ball rather than go for it, which I was prone to doing. He also told me to play the ball as late as possible. Mark O’Donnell told me to make a few adjustments, especially my head was falling over a tad too much,” he recollected.
With his father Aravind, a former first-class cricketer himself, he worked on his stance. “To get better balance I have now widened my stance. It was my father’s advise and I discus each aspect of my batting with him. He was my first coach and still is. Overall, these are the three points of my batting I have been working on in the nets as well as on the field,” he explained.
These aforementioned points may seem requisites in the coaching manual, but Pujara is prudent enough to realise that the basics need to be worked upon and not something to be dispensed with. For, it’s easy for bad habits to sneak into one’s technique. Even the best batsmen are prone to falling over and reaching for the ball at any given stage of their career. Technique, to Pujara, is more of an emotional anchor, a part of his being.
Until his maiden hundred against New Zealand he was a man sure of his abilities but unsure of his future.
But the hundred in Hyderabad against New Zealand asserted to himself than most that he belonged in the highest league.
“We are looking forward to the England series. It’s an important series for all of us, especially after what they did to us last year. We want to win the Test series and reclaim the number 1 spot,” he stated.