We have to carry forth batting legacy: Virat
Hyderabad, Aug 23: When Trent Boult knocked off Sachin Tendulkar’s middle stump just after lunch on Day 1 of the Hyderabad Test, India’s scorecard read 125 for three. Then, India’s No.3 and No.5 batsmen stitched together a 125-run partnership to bat the team out of trouble – something that has happened on numerous occasions before in the last 16 years. But this time, there it was different. The batsmen’s names on the scorecard did not read RS Dravid and VVS Laxman; instead, they were C Pujara and V Kohli.
Yes, the moment had finally come. It was time for India’s young batting talent to take over the reins of the middle-order. The shoes they were asked to fill were mighty big. But the two young men accepted the responsibility without bogging down to its pressures. And what they achieved was like a gentle pat on the back with warmly uttered words “don’t worry, everything will be okay” to those mourning the end of the Dravid-VVS era.
Pujara remained unbeaten on 119 at the end of the day. And although Virat got out after scoring 58, the value of his knock goes beyond the number of runs he scored. At the end of day’s play, Virat spoke to bcci.tv about his partnership with Pujara and assured the youth of Indian batting will strive to follow in the footsteps of their retired heroes.
There was a lot of hype around this Test due to the absence of Dravid and Laxman. And all eyes were on youngsters replacing them. Were you under pressure?
We weren’t really thinking about the pressure. But we did have in mind that we will suddenly be without two of the greatest batsmen that India has ever had. We knew we had to take up the responsibility, and I think we did a pretty decent job on the first day. We like taking up responsibility.
Talk about your partnership with Pujara.
Being looked at as the future of India’s Test middle order, it was really important for the two of us build that partnership at that stage. We were able to do that and we feel really good about it. It was especially really commendable the way Pujara batted, making a comeback after so long. It’s always special for anyone to score his first Test century, as it was for him. Hopefully, as we learn more about Test cricket, we can come up with many such partnerships for India and fill the shoes of the legends who have left us with so many examples and lessons that we’ve learnt from them.
What will you miss the most about Dravid and Laxman?
I think their mere personalities, the calmness and sense of assuredness they brought into the dressing room will be missed. The amount of professionalism and passion for the game that they had will be missed. Both of them had similar personalities and they were great friends as well. It’s up to us to carry forward their legacy.
Given your current form, most people thought you’ll walk out to bat at No.3. What was the logic behind sending Pujara there?
It was just the way the team planned before the game. Since I have been batting in the middle-order in the shorter formats, I have a fair idea as to how to go about things down the order. But for Cheteshwar, making his comeback, it was really important for him to get a good time out in the middle. When you’re batting in the lower-middle order, you don’t know when you’ll get in there. Someone who’s making a comeback just wants to get out there in the middle and be part of the action without having to wait. Pujara showed great temperament when he first played for India but then he wasn’t a part of the team for a long time. Hence, it was very important for his confidence spend more time in the middle. I think that worked really well for Pujara and we’re all very happy for him. The more number of players perform, the stronger the team gets.
Were you surprised when he hit that six? He’s not known to be a flamboyant player who hits sixes in Tests.
I wasn’t surprised. Pujara is a sort of batsman who can adapt to different conditions and formats. I remember, in 2011 we were playing an IPL game here in Hyderabad. And he was batting with me. He hit Dale Steyn for three beautiful fours. At that time, I saw how aggressive he can be. He can hit the ball pretty cleanly and in a Test match, when you have the fielders inside the circle, there are more chances of clearing the rope.
Were you disappointed with the way you got out?
I am very disappointed with the way I got out. After scoring 60-odd runs, it’s a crime for a batsman to get out like that. You work so hard to get there and one shot ends your innings. My plan was to stay there till the end and had I done that, I’d be at an overnight score of close to 100. Things don’t always work out well, but I’m happy I got a good start in the series with a half-century.
Was it a lapse in concentration?
Yes, you can say that. The wicket was a bit slow and the ball wasn’t travelling off it. I still went for that shot and it was probably not good shot selection from my end. I made a mistake and I’ll ensure that doesn’t happen again. Hopefully, the next time I get a chance to bat, I’ll get a hundred.
How is the track?
It had a bit of carry with the new ball but then got slower. I think it will start to turn as the Test progresses.