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Australia in a bit of an advantageous position: Pujara

Last updated on: December 17, 2020 20:21 IST
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India No 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who ground it out on Day 1, scoring 43 off 160 balls, believes that the match is evenly poised after India ended the day at 233 for 6 but conceded that skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane's dismissals in the final hour of the opening day will provide a 'little bit of advantage' to the hosts.

Australia's Travis Head attempts to catch out Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 1 of the 1st Test match at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Thursday

IMAGE: Australia's Travis Head attempts to catch out Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 1 of the 1st Test match at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Thursday. Pujara scored 43 off 160 balls before being dismissed by Nathan Lyon. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara took 148 balls to get his first boundary, but not for once did the senior India batsman feel that he batted too slowly during the opening day's play against Australia in the first Pink ball Test in Adelaide on Thursday.

Pujara scored a sedate 43 off 160 balls in India's 233 for 6 at stumps on day one.

Asked if he felt that he could have paced his innings better, the Saurashtra man had an emphatic no for an answer.

"Not at all. We were in a very good position in the first two sessions," said Pujara, defending the 41 scored by the team in the first session and 66 runs that were scored in the second.

 

"We needed to make sure that we don't lose wickets when the ball is swinging. It was a great day of Test cricket and there are no regrets at all about the strategy. We couldn't have lost more wickets playing shots and getting bowled in a day," said Pujara.

He also defended his batting style on the day as the wicket wasn't conducive for stroke-play.

"For a 300-plus total, it's important to play well in the first two sessions," Pujara said to explain his dour batting.

"The wicket was fresh, the bowlers were fresh, so you could not play your shots so early... it was important to be patient at that stage."

"Test cricket needs patience. If the wicket is flat, then you can be aggressive but when it's helping the bowlers, you can't play a lot of shots.

Nathan Lyon knocks the bails off the stumps after a throw from Josh Hazlewood to have Virat Kohli run-out 

IMAGE: Nathan Lyon knocks the bails off the stumps after a throw from Josh Hazlewood to have Virat Kohli run-out. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Pujara feels the batsmen need to spend enough time on the Adelaide wicket before they can start going after the bowlers.
"The more you play (against the) pink ball, you get used to it. But I feel there is enough in it for fast bowlers and the way they bowled we had to build a partnership," said Pujara.

"I don't think it was a flat pitch where you can start playing your shots and keep scoring runs. So it's a pitch where you need to give enough time as a batsman," he added.

"In overseas conditions, you don't want a total of less than 200 runs (in first innings). In the first two sessions, the bowlers are fresh and the pitch is fresh," he said.

Pujara believes that the match is evenly poised after India ended the day at 233 for 6.

However, he conceded that skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane's dismissals in the final hour of the opening day will provide a "little bit of advantage" to Australia

Kohli was leading India from the front before a silly misunderstanding between him and deputy Rahane ended his stint at the crease as the former was run out. Minutes later, Mitchell Starc struck in the very first over with the second new ball, trapping Rahane in front as India lost the fifth wicket before putting 200 runs on the board.

"We were in a very good position, I would say, and after losing a couple of wickets -- Virat and Ajinkya -- I feel those were crucial wickets. But I still feel that we are just six down, and Ash (R Ashwin) can bat, Wriddhi (Wriddhiman Saha) can bat. Even our lower order will try and contribute as many runs as possible," he said.

"So we still have a very good chance of getting close to 275, 300 and if we bat well you never know we can hit 350 also. Yes, I mean there was a stage when we were in a dominating position but after losing Virat and Ajinkya, Australia have a little bit of advantage. But we still are evenly placed in the contest," he added

His duel with Nathan Lyon during the post-dinner break is being talked about and he praised the Australian off-spinner for his remarkable transformation into a world-class bowler in the past four to five years.

"He gets a lot of revs (revolutions) on the ball. His line and length have really improved. He likes taking the challenge and while facing him, you also need to be prepared to face that challenge," he said. 

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