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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 28 February 2024

South Africa vs India: Cheteshwar Pujara puts on pads of experience

The No. 3 batter feels he has better clarity now about how to go about things

Our Bureau Published 24.12.21, 01:14 AM
Cheteshwar Pujara.

Cheteshwar Pujara. File Photo.

Cheteshwar Pujara may have lacked consistency for the last couple of years — his last century came in January 2019 in Australia — but his past experience of playing in South Africa has made him confident ahead of the series this time. India’s No. 3 batter feels he has better clarity now about how to go about things.

“When I came here in 2011, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were at their peak, I visited again in 2013 and 2017, so I understood what to expect.

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“With experience you learn so many things, I feel you start to believe in your preparation and don’t need to change too many things. Because of my tours of South Africa and Australia, I know the conditions little better,” Pujara said in a video posted by the BCCI.

“With that experience I know how to prepare, what kind of shots to play and what kind of shots one needs to avoid, so you are little bit clear with your preparation and mindset.

“...most of the (Indian) players have played in South Africa in the past, it is an experienced side and in terms of preparation, we know what is expected from us.

“Most of the teams play well in their home conditions and it’s the same with the South African team. They have one of the best bowling line-ups,” said the 33-year-old.

Pujara, who has scored two fifties in his last 10 innings, thinks the current batting line-up is experienced enough to tackle lateral movement on pace-friendly tracks in South Africa and he has no doubt that the team will deliver in the three-Test series, which begins Sunday.

“When you are a visiting team, you know that there is pace and bounce and there is lateral movement and to face the fast bowlers is always a big challenge when you go out of India,” Pujara said.

“This team has learnt that and this is a much more balanced batting line-up and I think we will be able to tackle that and with our preparation I am very confident we will put up a good show.”

Pujara thinks that the success achieved overseas will also help them to do well in South Africa as well, where they are yet to win a Test series.

“Having done well in England and Australia will make a big difference in this squad’s confidence and self-belief that we can win overseas, we can win in any conditions,” Pujara said.

“And with our bowling and batting line-ups, I am very confident that we have the capacity to win a series in South Africa.”

Pujara said while staying in bio-bubbles puts certain restrictions on an individual, it also allows players to spend more time together. “Sometimes I feel bio-bubble helps the team environment where you end up spending more time with the team players, you are in the team room, you are having more team dinners together, so overall I feel sometimes it helps the team environment, but yes, there are some challenges as well.

“You are not allowed to go out, you cannot explore the country. So there are restrictions as well, but at the same time you are getting to play some cricket and that’s the most important thing being a cricketer. We want to play some cricket and we are able to play cricket even in a bio-secure bubble, so that helps.”

India recently hosted New Zealand for a two-match Test series in November while South Africa last played a Test in June, against West Indies in Gros Islet. Most of the former players, including Sunil Gavaskar, believe this is their best opportunity to win a Test series in South Africa.

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