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Run-machine Pujara yearning for more!

Last updated on: November 15, 2013 21:45 IST

Run-machine Pujara yearning for more!

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Harish Kotian

Cheteshwar Pujara comes across as a batsman made perfectly for Test cricket, with the ability to play big knocks consistently and grind out the opposition bowlers for long periods.

Into his 15th Test match, Pujara’s record speaks for itself: 1310 runs, at an average of 65.50, with five centuries and three half-centuries, and a best score of 206.

On Friday, Pujara showed his class yet again as he played a sizzling innings of 113 in what, he says, were difficult circumstances out in the middle.

It was not the opposition bowlers who created problems, but the loud cheering for his batting partner Sachin Tendulkar that made it tough for him to concentrate.

"Initially, it was very difficult for me to concentrate because there was a lot of noise from the crowd and I was just coming and I didn’t face any balls.

"He (Tendulkar) faced the first ball before me because Vijay got out. It was really difficult initially because there was a lot of noise and he told me to just stay focussed; and once I played a few balls it was easy for me to bat then," Pujara said after Day 2 of the second Test against the West Indies, in Mumbai.

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Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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'I have got a very good start in Test format'

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Most batsmen would be happy to be dismissed after scoring 113 in a dominating performance by their team, but Pujara wasn't. The right-hander, who forced his way into the Indian team on the back of his ability to score big hundreds in domestic cricket, was yearning for more runs and another big knock.

"I have got a very good start in the Test format and have been scoring runs. I just want to continue the way I am batting and I still am a little bit disappointed, because I had the opportunity to score more runs. I got out on 113 but I am known to score big runs; so far, I am happy the way things have turned up," he said.

The 25-year-old started his innings with two boundaries off the first three balls he faced, but hardly got a cheer for those two hits. Instead, every single he picked was greeted with a huge roar as it brought back crowd favourite Tendulkar on strike.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI
Tags: Pujara

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'I was just looking to settle down'

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He paced his innings quite well and kept the scoreboard ticking at a good rate, though, bringing up his fifty from 77 balls.

He also survived a controversial appeal for caught at short leg, as the fielder appeared to have taken the catch close to the ground. The third umpire, however, gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Pujara went on to complete a century, from 146 balls, to help India dominate Day 2 and inch closer to another easy win.

He admitted that the West Indies caused him no problems and he could play his natural game.

"I was just looking to settle down, because, initially, I thought there would be little bit of help for the fast bowlers, as it happened on the first day. I felt that there wasn’t much help because the ball was old and I just wanted to bat the way I batted yesterday.

"So there was nothing serious which I planned, or something, because I knew the conditions, I was batting on 34 so I just wanted to be natural and just play my game," he said.

 


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI
Tags: Pujara

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'It was not easy to score runs'

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He also paid rich tribute to Rohit Sharma, who has hit two centuries in his first two Test matches.

Pujara said the Mumbai batsman reminds him of VVS Laxman, who also excelled playing with lower order batsmen.

"I think he batted really well. I felt that the way VVS Laxman used to bat with the tail, he has done the same thing. It was not easy to score runs.

"He was batting on 50 or 60 when we were eight down, and from there onwards to score a hundred... it is a big achievement.

He has started off well, even in the first Test match; so, he is in good form. He has done well in the ODI format also. I think he is doing really well," he said.

Pujara also took the opportunity to point out the contribution of the retiring Tendulkar, who, he said, was of great help to the youngsters in the team.


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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'We have played good cricket as a team'

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"Team India is doing really well but there is a lot of input from Sachin Paaji on the way the youngsters are shaping up.

"He has been guiding all the youngsters. I have been noticing this since I made my debut; not only me, but a lot of youngsters have got a lot of benefit from his inputs and the kind of conversations we have during the nets," he said.

He also refused to comment on West Indies’ poor showing in the two Tests so far, saying it was more due to India’s superior performances.

"We have played good cricket as a team. There were times in the first Test match where they did really well. We were 80 for five and we had to come back. It is never easy to win a Test match, no matter who your opposition is. We are playing good cricket and we should be credited for it," he said.

 


Image: Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: BCCI

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