Pujara: I shortened my stance on Dravid's advice

Pujara, who was dropped from the playing XI during the Australia tour, has made a comeback having scored a century (145) against Sri Lanka and a gritty 77 against South Africa, both on tricky pitches.

Cheteshwar Pujara made his debut at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  Sampath Kumar G. P.

Cheteshwar Pujara is back among the runs and he attributes his success to the technical advice received from India A coach Rahul Dravid.

Pujara, who was dropped from the playing XI during the Australia tour, has made a comeback having scored a century (145) against Sri Lanka and a gritty 77 against South Africa, both on tricky pitches.

Employing a shorter stance

While he didn’t want to divulge the secret of his success, he did reveal that Dravid had told him about a employing a shorter stance (decreasing the distance between the feet).

“I have the measurement of what kind of stance I had and the distance between the feet. Now I have a slightly shorter stance and the distance is slightly less (between the two feet). I discussed it with my father (former first class player Arvind Pujara) and Rahul Bhai before the Sri Lanka series and came down to the conclusion as to what I wanted to do,” said Pujara.

But the right-hander also said that a stance is an individual thing and one should be comfortable while employing a certain stance.

“Every stance has its advantages and disadvantages. Of players' comfort and kind of technique they have. So each individual is different. Ultimately, most important thing about stance is the comfort.”

‘I am back in form’

For the 27-year-old Rajkot cricketer, the key to success is self-belief as poor form is just a passing phase.

“I never thought that I will not be able to return to international cricket (when dropped from XI). Because, I had a good start and I scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket. So I always had that confidence. There was a time where I did not score runs as expected but that phase is gone and now I am back in form.

“If you look at all cricketers, they go through a certain phase where they don’t do as well as they are expected to but once you start believing yourself and working hard on your game, scoring runs in any game domestic or club game, then you get confidence,” said the Saurashtra batsman.

‘Domestic cricket helped me tackle spin’

Apart from Murali Vijay, it was Pujara, whose footwork looked assured against South African spinners on a turning deck and he attributes it to the runs he has scored against tweakers on domestic circuit.

“For me, it has been a good experience having played a lot of domestic cricket and scoring big runs on turning wickets. It has helped me know the wickets and I know my gameplan as to how I can tackle the spin bowling.”

‘Footwork and judgement are crucial’

For the man who has 2326 runs from 29 Tests, it is a combination of being able to judge the flight as well as having a neat footwork that helps in countering the spinners effectively.

“I think it is a mix of everything. If I look at the last Test match, my footwork was really good and judgement of the length was also good. Both are required. It was important to know which deliveries might come in and which line you can leave the ball and which line you can play the deliveries.”

‘Communicated well with Vijay’

He had two good half century partnerships (63 and 86) with Vijay in the first Test and he feels that being able to dominate the attack was key.

“When I went into bat at the fall of first wicket, the most important thing was communication. It was very important for us to build partnership. Both of us are solid players against spinners. Attacking or defending, we knew what we were doing. Most of the times, we were on top of their bowlers. We read their spinners very well, we rotated the strike. We scored off loose balls and communicated well in between overs.”

‘Chinnaswamy one of my favourite stadiums’

Chinnaswamy holds fond memories for Pujara, who made 72 on his Test debut against Australia, at this very ground five years ago.

“I can still remember the sweet memories I had. It was in 2010 I made my Test debut against Australia on this ground. It feels good to be back here. After that I played another Test match against New Zealand at this ground. This is one of my favourite stadiums. I am looking forward to this game as well.”

On Saturday’s match

However he feels that India’s formidable record at this ground will have no bearing on the upcoming Test.

“I don’t think that will matter but good thing is that we have won the first Test match. Psychologically, we have that advantage but we can’t take them lightly as they are a good side. What we need to do is to stay focused on our game rather than think about their combination. As long as we are doing what we need to do it, that will allow us to win the Test match.”

On comparing Dhoni and Kohli as captains

The batsman shrugged questions on comparison of captaincy styles of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

“I have never believed in comparisons. Both captains have their own gameplan, I don’t want to say anything. Ultimate thing for any captain is to win games for the team.”

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