Calcutta: Still in the process of finding a foothold in the T20 format, Cheteshwar Pujara knows that he cannot be as explosive as some of his Kings XI Punjab teammates, but he is hoping carve a niche for himself by emulating South African legend Jacques Kallis.
Pujara, who opens the innings for Kings XI, has proven himself as a Test performer, but is still adjusting to the much faster T20 cricket.
“I cannot be flamboyant like (Glenn) Maxwell or (David) Miller, but I can always be a Jacques Kallis who plays proper cricketing shots, but can still score runs at a good strike rate. This is what I am looking for,” Pujara said.
“The basics of cricket remain the same, irrespective of the format you play. You have to hit the cricket ball at the end of the day. I know how to play the cricket ball to the best of my abilities.
“My way of hitting may be classical, where you try and time the ball. In the T20 format, you are required to hit it harder and find the gaps whenever possible. It is just about fine-tuning your game, rather than making changes in the way you play,” he said.
Kings XI have been brilliant so far, winning all three of the games they have played. The credit for that has mostly gone to Maxwell and Miller, both of whom have been in rampaging form with the bat.
“Even before the IPL started, we always felt we had a very good team. On paper, the team was excellent, but we had to execute things on the field. We are happy with the way things have gone so far. Three out of three is good and hope we can make five out of five in Dubai and then continue our momentum in India,” he said.
“We have big-hitters like (Virender) Sehwag, Maxwell, Miller and (George) Bailey, who can hit the ball long. My role in the team is to stick at one end. I intend to rotate the strike and hit the boundaries,” Pujara added.
Asked about his experience of opening the batting with Sehwag, Pujara said: “I speak a lot to Virupaa regarding my game, not just in T20s, but also in the longer format. When I made my debut, he was the one who gave me my Test cap.
“From that time onwards, he has been guiding me… Not just in Tests, he also tells me how to go about my game in ODIs and T20Is. I chat with him about the IPL and he has been guiding me really well.”
On whether he is adjusting well to the T20s, Pujara said the process has been tough but smooth so far. “In T20s, you have to be innovative and you don’t get as much time to get settled and then start playing your shots.
“In my case, I am opening the innings for Kings XI and I have to be ready to hit the ball from the very first over. The job becomes a bit difficult, but with time and a few more matches, I will get better.”