There was a singular moment during Cheteshwar Pujara’s press conference when he mentioned about his team-mates telling him that the hundred in the first Test in progress here, was one of his best. An Australian journalist cheekily asked him: “Did they call you ‘Steve’?” Pujara grinned, his eyes crinkled and feeling shy about being compared to Steve Waugh, he said: “I would like to be called as Pujara.”
It also revealed that he is comfortable in his own skin. “It is one of my top innings in Test cricket. I could say top-five,” India’s centurion said here on Thursday evening. “The top-order made mistakes but they will learn. As far as my innings is concerned, I had prepared well and overall I have the experience of first-class and Test cricket and that came in handy,” he added.
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Did the heat prove cumbersome? “It was tough but I was set and I knew I could play my shots, especially when we lost the seventh wicket. Ash (Ashwin) and I were having a good partnership but once we lost Ash , I had to accelerate. I knew what shots I could play on that wicket because I had batted for two sessions,” Pujara replied.
India’s number-three batsman lauded the Australian bowlers and said that 250 so far is a “decent total” on a pitch that “wasn’t easy to bat on.” “The odd ball is skidding and the odd ball is holding a bit more from the grass,” Pujara explained.
And without rancour, Pujara drew attention to the insinuation about him only flourishing in India: “People have always said that I have scored more runs in India but at the same time, you also need to look at the number of matches we play in India. If we have played a number of matches in India, obviously I will score runs there. At times, I have had a bad phase playing overseas but I still feel very confident about playing in different conditions. Playing county cricket has helped me a lot.”
And did the Aussies sledge? “When I am batting and the opposition is trying to sledge me, I am not bothered about it because my focus is always on my batting and sometimes I do get motivated if they try to sledge me,” Pujara said and with a disarming smile, walked away from the dais.