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Having batted well against Swann, Panesar helped: Pujara

Last updated on: March 4, 2013 19:11 IST

Having batted well against Swann, Panesar helped: Pujara

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Bikash Mohapatra

The last time Cheteshwar Pujara batted at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad, he scored 159, his maiden hundred. Seven months later, he returned to the venue and outdid the effort with a double ton. Bikash Mohapatra reports.

The last occasion Cheteshwar Pujara stepped out to bat at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad, he returned having scored 159.

- Scorecard

It was his maiden hundred, in what was only his fourth Test -- against New Zealand last Augus -- and an innings that ensured India did not have to bat a second time.

Also read: I cannot replace Dravid; no one can: Pujara

Seven months later, Pujara, having played in six more Tests and become a reliable No.3 (read replacement for Rahul Dravid), returned to the venue and outdid his previous effort.

His innings of 204 on Monday, Day 3 of the second Test, was significant, having come against a team he made his debut – in Bangalore in October 2010.

The ongoing Test is only the third at the venue, and Pujara, whose career is still in its infancy, was quick to admit his affinity to the ground that has given him two big scores.

"It's been good playing at this ground," he said, before proceeding to elaborate how his previous innings helped the present one.

"Getting a hundred against New Zealand helped," he said.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI
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'It was really difficult to run during the first session'

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"I was aware that it is a ground where you have to apply yourself to bat well," he added.

It was the 25-year-old's second double hundred, coming on the back of an unbeaten 206 against England in the opening Test at Motera last November.

The youngster, however, refrained from comparing the two innings.

"That (Motera) was an easier wicket to bat on. This was a difficult one, with a lot of turn," Pujara explained, when prodded.

Even though the wicket 'turned' the Saurashtra batsman had no problem whatsoever in negotiating the two Australian spinners -- Glenn Maxwell and Xavier Doherty.

"In recent times I have batted well against Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar -- in the home series against England -- and that helped considerably while facing the Australian spinners," said Pujara, admitting he wasn't fully fit during the course of his innings.

"I pulled a hamstring; it was really difficult to run during the first session yesterday.

"I just wanted to hang around and not give my wicket away.

"Today it was much easier."

During the course of his innings, Pujara was involved in a 370-run partnership for the second wicket with Murali Vijay (167), one that beat the previous Indian record -- held by Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar, who put on 344 against West Indies at the Wankhede in 1978 -- by a distance.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI
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Joint-quickest Indian to reach 1000 Test runs

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Besides, it was the fourth-highest partnership for any wicket for India.

Pujara explained their strategy was fairly simple.

"We wanted to make sure not to lose many early wickets, having lost one (Virender Sehwag).

"From the Australian innings, and the way they collapsed, we could make out the ball was doing a bit," he siad.

The 341-ball knock, that took Pujara almost seven hours, also ensured him a personal landmark.

Needing 25 more at the start of the day to reach 1000 Test runs, the right-hander became the joint-quickest Indian, along with the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, to achieve the feat in terms of number of Tests played (11 each). The batsman, however, refrained from reading too much into the numbers.

"I wasn't about the record," admitted Pujara.

"I like scoring big hundreds at any level, but when you score for your country, it's really satisfying," he added.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI
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