It is fair to say that Australia prepared for the belligerence of Virat Kohli during the last Test series against India but, to their absolute surprise, Cheteshwar Pujara came out of the syllabus.
Pujara batted and batted and batted till the point that he grounded the famed Australian attack to dust. The Indian No.3 faced more than 1200+ balls for his 521 runs in his four Tests which included three hundreds and his first ton of the series when India found themselves reeling at 4/41 on the first morning laid the cornerstone for an eventual Indian win.
Two years later, Pujara is back in Australia but unlike last time, there is a lot more focus on him by the opposition and with Virat Kohli set to leave the tour after the first Test, he will have to once again lead the Indian batting.
Pujara, of-course, would love to repeat the heist but he is not someone who lives in past glory. He knows that he will once again have to be in his monk-like zone again in order to emulate the last tour performances.
“I would definitely like to repeat the performance, but I am not someone who would live on past glory, Yes, it was an excellent tour but this will be a fresh start. I will have to be in my zone again. It’s not that because it worked in the past, results will follow. They never do. You have to concentrate in every innings.” Cheteshwar Pujara told Hindustan Times.
Australians thrive on mentally disintegrating the opposition batsmen by getting under their skin.
But for someone like Cheteshwar Pujara, who when he is in the cauldron, it feels as if he is meditating, sledging is an overrated thing. He added that he does not even know what the opposition is saying to him while he is batting.
“I think sledging is overrated. It’s irrelevant. I don’t think you can win too many battles with sledging. I don’t even know what they are saying when I am in my zone.” Cheteshwar Pujara said.
And, he attributes that facet of his game to the level of concentration that he achieves via meditation and yoga.
Concentrate” Pujara does. “My routine – meditation, prayers and yoga are part of my life. I don’t do them consciously to improve my game but there is correlation for sure. They help me stay calm and positive. It’s very difficult to develop after you are older.”
‘I think you just have to stick to your strength’- Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara is aware of the fact that unlike last time, the Australian bowlers will become better prepared to counter his threat. But, he has enough confidence in the fact that if he can stick to his strength and play to the merit of the ball then he will once again be successful.
”Yes, they would have studied me. We won the series; I got runs, so there will be extra pressure. But that’s what one has to learn to handle. I think you just have to stick to your strength. If you watch the ball and play to the merit of the ball, you will be successful most of the time,” said Pujara.
The Indian No.3 also went on to exude a lot of confidence on his bowling group, adding that if the visitors can get 300-350 runs, then their fast bowlers as well their spinners can put any team under immense pressure.
“If we can get 300-350 runs, with the bowling line-up that we have, I am very confident we can bowl teams out. Both, our fast bowlers and spinners are very good. (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja are amongst the best too.” he added.