Monday, 30th October 2017

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Among my top 5 Test knocks, says Pujara

Pujara, however, agreed that the Indian top-order should have batted better on the day

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 7.12.18, 3:18 AM
  • Updated 7.12.18, 9:56 AM
  • 3 mins read
Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates his century during the first Test between Australia and India in Adelaide on Thursday. AP

 Cheteshwar Pujara came to the crease after the fall of the first wicket and at the end of the day, was the last man to be dismissed. In between, he played a brilliant innings of 123 that helped India stay in the fight, in the opening Test against Australia, in Adelaide.

India struggled almost all through the day, but Pujara stood tall amidst the ruins. It was his innings that helped India finish the opening day on 250 for nine.

Speaking at the media conference at the end of the day’s play, Pujara said that he would place his Thursday’s innings among the top five of his 16 centuries in the longest format of the game.

This was the second overseas hundred for Pujara this year, after his effort in Southampton against England. He also scored fighting half-centuries in the two Test wins in Johannesburg (against South Africa) and Nottingham (against England).

“It (Thursday’s knock) is one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five. I can’t rate if it was one of the best, but my teammates were saying it was one of my best,” he said.

The 30-year-old said although a majority (10) of his 16 hundreds came at home, it in no way suggested that he is more effective on Indian pitches. Only three of Pujara’s overseas hundreds have come outside the subcontinent.

“...people have always said that I have scored more runs in India. But at the same time, you also need to look at the number of matches we play in India. If we have played more number of matches in India, obviously I will score runs there,” he reasoned.

The right-hander said he has never been short of confidence while taking guard on foreign pitches. “At times, I have had a bad phase playing overseas, but I still feel very confident playing in different conditions and playing County cricket has helped me a lot.

“Playing in England, conditions are always challenging and when you come to Australia, you know that pitches are slightly better and as I said, I had decent time to prepare before the Test series,” he said.

Pujara, however, agreed that the Indian top-order should have batted better on day. “We should have batted better, but they also bowled well in the first two sessions. I knew that I had to stay patient and wait for the loose balls. The way they bowled, they bowled in the right areas… I also felt that our top order should have batted better, but they will learn from the mistakes,” he said.

“Hopefully we will bat well in the second innings. As far as my innings is concerned, I had prepared well and overall I have the experience of first-class and Test cricket and that came in handy,” he said.

Pujara put on vital partnerships with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma in the end, as the Australian pacers tired. He opened up and played a few more shots to take India to what the batsman ascertained to be a competitive total.

He added that the wicket wasn’t as easy to bat on, and that he needed to take a lot of time to play his shots.

‘It has to be different because when you are batting with the tail, you never know how long can they bat. You have to take your chances but you can't do the same when you are batting with a (top order) batsman. When you are just one or two down, you can’t play the same shots.

“Also, the difference is, I had batted for two sessions and I knew what the pace and bounce of the pitch was. I was set, so I could play my shots. I was a bit disappointed but I had to take that single because only last two balls were left and I wanted to be on strike. I took the chance but Pat Cummins fielded brilliantly,” he said of run out on what turned out to be the final ball of the day.

Pujara feels 250-plus would a decent first innings total, considering the conditions.

“I would say it is a decent total because there is enough turn. Ashwin will also come into play. It is not an easy wicket to bat on. Sometimes when you are seeing it on TV, it doesn’t look like it is doing a lot. But when I batted in the first and second sessions, I felt it wasn’t easy to bat on and with our fast bowlers, I will share my experience.”