Cheteshwar Pujara: Being fearless has helped me enjoy my game

India vs New Zealand, first Test: The India vice-captain is not worried about his lack of centuries, says scoring one is just a matter of one innings.

Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a century since January, 2019.   -  AP

Cheteshwar Pujara says adopting a fearless approach has brought the joy back in his batting and that the lack of Test centuries - his last century was in 2019 - doesn’t perturb him.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, Pujara said his aggressive approach in the Test series in England helped him.

“Yes, I feel so. When it comes to performing, the mindset was a little different but when it comes to technique I don’t think there was a major change in technique. It was just the approach and I was a little fearless which helps,” Pujara answered to a query from PTI ahead of team’s training session.

Pujara admitted that he was putting too much pressure on himself earlier. “You don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself and just try and go there and enjoy the game rather than worrying too much about what’s going around. That was the mindset during England series. So far preparation has been good and experiences of playing in Indian conditions will help in the next couple of Tests,” the senior batter said.

‘Matter of one innings’

“As far as my hundred is concerned, when it has to happen it will happen. My job is to bat well for the team and it’s not that I haven’t been getting runs. I have got 80s and 90s. As long as I am batting well and contributing for the team, I am not bothered about my hundred. It’s matter of one innings,” he said.

Pujara believes that added responsibility helps but it does not mean that he will not reach out juniors without a designation.

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“Added responsibility can work in your favour as you can share experience with youngsters. Even when I am not vice-captain, I try and share my experiences as much as I can and ultimate focus is about Indian team.”

Pujara’s captain for the first Test, Ajinkya Rahane has not been in the best for form for the last two years but Pujara is confident that a quality player like him won’t stay quiet for a long time. “He is a great player but there are times when a player goes through tough times and that’s part of the game. So there will be ups and downs but he is a confident player, one who works very hard on his game and I am very sure and he is just one innings away from getting a big score.

“Once he gets a big hundred, he will back in form. He has been working hard in the nets and I have been seeing the way he has been batting. He is in good touch.”

Rahul Dravid’s entry into the Indian dressing room as head coach is a win-win situation for Pujara, whose game is modelled on current Dravid’s tight defensive technique. “It will help most of the players, especially young players who have worked with Rahul bhai during U-19 and India A days. Even experienced players like us, I have played with Rahul bhai.

“I have worked with him during A series, so all of us are looking forward to his guidance. The amount of experience he has as a player and coach of the team, helps.”

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