Cheteshwar Pujara: Didn't get enough opportunities in IPL

Cheteshwar Pujara looks back on his success Down Under and a topsy turvy 2018 where he went from getting dropped for one Test in England to becoming the leading run-scorer in Australia.

Cheteshwar Pujara walks out to bat on day two of the third Test against Australia in Melbourne.   -  Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara's 521 runs including three hundreds helped India achieve a landmark 2-1 series win in Australia. In an interview with Sportstar, Pujara looks back on his success Down Under and a topsy turvy 2018 where he went from getting dropped for one Test in England to becoming the leading run-scorer in Australia.

Excerpts

What does success in Australia mean to you personally?

It means a lot to me personally and to us as a team. Before leaving for Australia, we had talked about winning a series overseas. We came close in England and South Africa, maybe not very close, but we felt that the final result could have gone our way. But the tour Down Under was where we played really well as a unit. I am someone who always believes in thorough preparation and my training was up to the mark before that series, which is why I was so successful.

Did a poor run of form in the early half of 2018 contribute to your omission from the first England Test?

I wouldn’t say I had a bad 2018 because, in South Africa, I was batting really well. I was run out twice in the second Test in Centurion; obviously, I am not trying to point fingers at someone, but when you play Test cricket, mistakes happen. That failure should not be counted, according to me.

Player of the Series, Cheteshwar Pujara holds the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.   -  Getty Images

 

Overall, my track record in South Africa has been good, and even in the last Test of that series (Johannesburg), I scored 50 on one of the toughest wickets I have ever played on. That was the time when I was very confident about my batting; although the numbers said otherwise, I believe the Johannesburg fifty was as good as 150.

How do you cope with getting dropped from the team?

You become even more determined once you are benched because I couldn’t find anything wrong with my ability. And whenever I am dropped, I try and look at the positives, what I’ve done in the past and how I can contribute to this team.

You scored a hundred in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament. Was there a point to prove to the Indian Premier League franchises?

It was about proving a point to myself more than anyone else that I can play the IPL, do well in white-ball cricket. You feel happy when you work hard and the results are in your favour. This is just the beginning. I still feel there is a lot to play for as far as limited-overs cricket is concerned. I am working on a few things, but Test cricket will always remain my priority.

Sometimes I feel I didn’t get enough opportunities. Whenever I have played the IPL, I didn’t play the whole season. I just featured in three or four games and then wasn’t part of the playing XI after that. It is important for a player to get a long run to be able to better understand what needs to be done to succeed in the T20 format. Now, with experience, I know how to pace my innings, but as a youngster, some more exposure on Indian pitches would have been nice. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you just take it in the stride and move on.

For the full interview, grab the latest edition of Sportstar magazine