IND vs ENG: Pujara backs Pant to continue playing his natural game

Cheteshwar Pujara believes India's plans on day four of the first Test would be to stick around for as long as possible and try to get closer towards England's first innings total.

Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant plays a shot during his knock of 91 off 88 balls.   -  SPORTZPICS/BCCI

Batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara believes India's plans on day four of the first Test would be to stick around for as long as possible and try to get closer towards England's first innings total.

IND vs ENG: Rishabh Pant falls nine short of 3rd Test century  

"We will take one session at a time. Tomorrow, the first session will be the most crucial. We would like to bat as long as possible. There's a little bit of spin now but overall, it is still a good pitch to bat on. So, we would back our middle order and tail-enders to do well. There is still a lot to play for and we would like to get as close to the total as possible," Pujara said, during a virtual media interaction.

Aggression not the plan

India, on Sunday, was scoring at the rate of almost five runs per over when wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant switched gears to start firing on all cylinders. There was even a time when Pant went after left-arm spinner Jack Leach to hammer him for four sixes within a gap of only five overs. With the visitor having posted 578 in the first innings, and India still a long way away from the mammoth score, Pant's T20-esque approach raised a few eyebrows.

"It [the aggression] wasn't part of the game plan. We just wanted to bat normally. When we play in India, the scoring rate is always on the higher side. Rishabh likes to take the bowlers on. It is fair. That's his game and that's the way he should play."

 

Pujara, 33, believes a few soft dismissals further ruined the host's fortunes. While England skipper Joe Root took a marvelous one-handed screamer to remove Ajinkya Rahane, Rory Burns, at midwicket, took a rebound catch off the fielder stationed at short-leg to send Pujara back.

"[For] Ajinkya, it was a full toss, and you want to put those balls away. Unfortunately, it went to covers. Nine out of 10 times he would have hit that for a four. When you get a loose ball, you want to work it away. But it went off the short-leg fielder. It was unlucky. We weren't looking to get to their total. We were trying to build partnerships."

Pujara-Pant phenomenon

This is the third successive red-ball international in which the Pujara-Pant partnership has worked wonders. Pujara concurred saying it does make life difficult for the opposition.

"It does [put pressure on the opponent]. There's a good left-hand-right-hand combination which frustrates the bowlers. The scoreboard keeps moving. We have batted enough. It's been a crucial partnership between us, and I hope this continues. I love batting with him."

IND vs ENG 2nd Test: I, J, K stands at Chepauk to be opened for fans  

However, Pujara did add that Pant was more susceptible to committing errors owing to his flamboyant style of play.

"We talk about the shots he can play and avoid. He still has to learn a few more things. He has to put the team in a commanding position first. He is also missing out on hundreds. He will learn from his mistakes. There are some shots which he needs to avoid. He needs to be a bit more patient. If he bats longer, we will put up a bigger total."

Local lads and all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar continue to lead a spirited fightback as India ended day three on 257/6, still 122 runs away to avoid the follow-on.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :