Batting at number three is a challenging task. But for 25-year-old Cheteshwar Pujara it was a different challenge as he was filling in the shoes of Rahul Dravid, who was the Wall of Indian cricket for two decades. Pujara, a prolific scorer in domestic cricket, has has also been the mainstay of Indian batting. In his 11 Tests, he has showed that he has the temperament and skills. Pujara has already four centuries, including two double tons. “I am not aware of any records but I am happy with what I have achieved so far for the country. I have always enjoyed scoring hundreds whether I am playing for country or club. When you score them for your country, it’s a different type of satisfaction,” said Pujara after the end of the third day’s play at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Monday.
He has sweet memories of this ground as he hit 159 against New Zealand in August last year and struck a double century on Monday. “It has been good going for me in this ground. Playing against New Zealand and getting a hundred here in the past helped me.”
The fact that he scored an unbeaten 206 against England in the first Test at Ahmedabad in the last home series and the double ton against Aussies should have given him more joy. But he said both the knocks were important for the team and one should not compare them. “Whenever you need to score big ones you don’t need to compare those because conditions are different and the teams are different. I am happy to have scored another double ton.”
On the record partnership of 370 with Murali Vijay, Pujara said initially they wanted to make it sure they don’t lose early wicket because the ball was doing a bit in the morning session. “We knew that the new ball will do a bit. Once I scored my hundred, I was set and seeing the ball well. I didn’t want to do anything extra. I was playing my natural game.”
When queried about pulling a hamstring on Sunday, Pujara said: “It was difficult for me to run and even focus on my batting. When my hamstring was sore, I just wanted to hang around and let the time go by and afterwards I was much better and could concentrate on my batting. The injury is settling down and I hope I will be better,” he added.
Talking about the wicket, Pujara said there was bit of help for the spinners. “It’s turning a little more and the odd ball is jumping. It’s good for spinners and you have to apply yourself to bat well.”