Mumbai: England needed almost 17 hours to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara for the first time in this series. After an undefeated 206 and 41 in Ahmedabad, the Saurashtra batsman was stumped off Graeme Swann for 135 on the second morning.
Pujara, however, wants to keep his innings at the Wankhede much ahead of the double century in the first Test because of the nature of the wicket and its sheer effectiveness.
“I think this knock was better than the Ahmedabad innings,” Pujara said after close on the second day. “This innings was more satisfying than the double hundred because we were in trouble and the team needed runs on the board… I thought even the wicket was difficult to bat on. So, it was satisfying to score a hundred on a difficult wicket.”
Pujara faced 350 balls during his 452-minute stay and hit 12 boundaries. What then is the secret of his consistency? “Consistency is the most important part of a batsman. I am happy that I am able to perform consistently and this is what I always like to do. I have done the same thing even in the domestic format… I am happy that I have been able to repeat that at the international level as well.”
He thinks India’s total of 327 was decent on this surface. “Our first target was to put 350 on the board. We tried our best, but in the end we managed a decent total. Initially it was difficult playing spin on this wicket… I think the wicket is slowing down a bit and it’s easy to play shots now. But we will get to know as the match progresses, as we have three more days, and it might turn later on. Let’s see… It’s very difficult to predict the wicket at the moment.”
Would he term the wicket as one that only helps the bowler in the first session? “I wouldn’t say so, but it has been eased out a bit.”
Despite the reverses, he spelt out hope for India. “Well, we needed more wickets to be honest. And couple of decisions went against us… Still I think we bowled decently. Tomorrow will be different day, and it turns a bit more in the first session. So, we have to utilise that and get some more wickets.”
He also credited Monty Panesar for making full use of the conditions. “Monty was quite impressive. I knew that he would be bowling well in these conditions… He knew the areas he needed to bowl, and he utilised the pitch well.”
Pujara was quick to dismiss all comparisons with Rahul Dravid once again. “I have always said that it’s a wrong comparison… He has scored more than 10000 runs in both the formats. I am just starting my career. I just want to play my natural game and do well for Team India. I don’t have any long terms plans at the moment,” he explained.
He felt that he could adapt to the one-day format too. “I can play the ODI format as well… In domestic cricket, I have been very successful in the Challenger Trophy, and I think I will get my chance in the ODI format as well. ”
Pujara differed when informed that statistics pointed to him being stumped for the first time in first-class cricket. “I don’t think so. I have got out stumped in the domestic format. This was not the first time, ” he acknowledged.