Team India’s batting mainstay, Cheteshwar Pujara has been earning accolades for his recent Australia tour; where he scored 521 runs in four Tests at an average of nearly 75. Not only this, but he also hit three centuries, including 193 at the SCG in the final Test. But, in Pujara’s word, his century in the first Test in Adelaide has to be his best of the tour. However, in an exclusive interview to the TOI, India’s number three in Tests talked about how tough it is to play in Down Under and also shared a word on Australia’s media as well.
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Marathon Man – Pujara, won it for India!
Under Virat Kohli, it was Pujara’s first tour Down Under and second overall. Though his numbers from the last visit didn’t impress anyone, his staggering figures this time left the world talking about him. It all began when India’s scorecard read 41 for four in the first innings of the Adelaide Test. Even the captain, Virat Kohli departed early, and the onus fell on the shoulders of the ever-reliable, Cheteshwar Pujara.
From that point onwards, Pujara played the anchored innings and guided India to score 250 in the first innings. Off those many runs, 123 were of Pujara’s; showing how crucial his knock was. Moreover, he hit 71 in the following innings, helping the Indian team give a target of 323 to the Aussies. The visitors eventually won the game by 31 runs, as India took a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
In the second Test in Perth, he didn’t score many runs, as India went down hunting in the fourth innings. As the series stood 1-1 heading the boxing day Test at the ‘G’, Pujara played another gem of the innings (106 off 319 balls) to help India retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
However, he saved his best for the last; as, in Sydney, Cheteshwar Pujara hit a magnificent 193 alongside Rishabh Pant’s second Test ton to see India post 622 for seven. Though the game got drawn, India won their maiden Test series in Australia in 71 years; Saurashtra batsman bagged the Player of the Series award as well.
The crowd is always backing them – Cheteshwar
Meanwhile, he applauded the Aussie crowd saying despite the results not favouring the hosts; the fans never backed down. The right-handed batsman added the Aussies are aware of their conditions. Even though Australia lost the series, they are still a tough nut to crack, at least at home.
“They’re very strong. They’re well aware of all the conditions … and their bowlers always have a very good plan to get the batsman out in their conditions. So, they’re well-prepared and they know what they’re doing. Even their crowd will always support them.” Pujara said.
Aussie media doesn’t affect me, says ice-cool Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the coolest players in the Indian Test team. Now, he had been to Australia twice and knew a bit or two about their media. As they had been expressive about their opposition, especially if its Virat Kohli; who likes to get under the skin of his opponent, the Australia media loves to unsettle the visiting team.
However, Pujara noted they don’t affect, thankfully. He added if an opposition team player he makes a mistake, the Australia media ensures they let you know about it.
“Yes … everything. Even their media is always supporting their team. If you make any error, they always let the opponents know. So, as an Indian player, if there’s something wrong, or even if there is a minor discussion in the team, and if their media person gets to know, then they’ll always go behind that player.”
“It’s part of their strategy, which we understand. There’s a little bit of sledging which is going on. But luckily, I’m someone who doesn’t get affected. In fact, I get motivated when they try and sledge me.” Pujara added.