I could read Swann well: Pujara
Ahmedabad, Nov 15: The greatest batsmen in the world have worked on one philosophy, ‘When you strike form, make the most of it. Those runs will help you during the rainy days.’ It’s good to see that despite the popular belief, even in this age of Twenty20 cricket, young batsmen do value those words and act by them. In India the perfect illustration of this attitude since the last couple of years, has been Virat Kohli. Now, Cheteshwar Pujara has joined him, in the Test team.
An injury kept Pujara out for more than a year after an impressive debut against Australia in 2010. But since his return, Pujara’s Test scores read 159, 9, 48 and 98* at the end of Day 1 of the first Test against England. It is still early days for him. But this 24-year-old has seen too many rainy days at the very start of his career, which is now helping him appreciate the value of runs.
Pujara, along with Virender Sehwag (117 at run-a-ball) have put India in a fine position after the first day. While Sehwag will have a good night’s sleep, his young batting colleague will have some butterflies in his stomuch, for he is two runs short of a well-compiled second Test century.
Thanks to the mature head over his shoulders, the excitement wasn’t visible in Pujara’s voice as he spoke to bcci.tv at the end of day’s play. All we got from him was a generous smile. Pujara, who was involved in a 90-run stand with Sehwag, shared his experience of batting with such a special batsman and admired his understanding of the game.
Pujara also revealed the changes he has made to his game in order to be able to play fast bowling better and discussed what his idea of being in form is.
The anticipation of this series was huge. What was the talk like in the Indian dressing room ahead of this Test?
There is no pressure on us. Since England are playing in the Indian conditions the pressure is on them. We’re very well prepared for the series; we had a three-day camp in Mumbai and had two days of practice. So, we were confident coming into the series.
You seemed to have continued from where you left the New Zealand Test series.
I think consistency is the most important thing. I was batting well in the domestic matches. I did well in the Challengers Trophy and made a double hundred playing for Indian Oil Corporation. All those games helped me a lot to stay in form. I was working on my technique and worked on a few things even during the New Zealand series.
When do you know that you’re in form?
Start is the most important thing for me. When I get 30-40 runs, I know I can go on to get a big one. Preparation plays a big role in my performance. If I’m batting well in the nets, I know I’ll score in the match too. Even today – yes, you can’t be sure that you will be scoring a hundred each time but – when I went in to bat, I knew that I will be scoring some runs.
How was it batting with Virender Sehwag?
It’s amazing. There is no pressure on me because he plays all the shots. His knowledge of the game is brilliant and he was guiding me throughout our partnership. When Swann was bowling, he told me to wait for the ball and not going further and pushing at the ball. Early in my innings I was in trouble against Bresnan when I played across the line. Sehwag at once came to me and told me not to do that. That was it; after that I didn’t play a single ball across the line and waited for a leg-side ball to play those shots. Guidance like this one helps the youngsters a lot.
There was some talk in the media about your vulnerability against the short ball after you got out twice to that delivery in the New Zealand Tests. What do you make of it?
Earlier I tried to play all the short balls; when they bowled high bouncers, I even hooked the ball. But now I have changed my strategy. Now I play the pull shot but leave the balls that are above my shoulder.
Were you expecting a lot of bouncers from the England seamers?
I knew that in the Indian conditions it will be difficult for them to bowl bouncers, but still I had my preparation for short balls as well. If the England bowlers decide to bowl bouncers at me in the coming games as well, I don’t mind because I’m prepared for it.
Graeme Swann dismissed all the four Indian batsmen to fall. You seemed to be at ease against him
I had my preparations against off-spinners. I faced a lot of them in the nets knowing that Swann will be the strike bowler for them. You cannot compare the nets bowlers with someone like Swann but it got me used to facing that type of bowling. I could read his mind and the way he was trying to get wickets. I could tell what areas he was looking to bowl in.