Before India began their home season in September, India skipper Virat Kohli said he had spoken to Cheteshwar Pujara over improving his strike rate. (Highlights)
Pujara, regarded as a Test specialist, was seen as batting too slow even for the longest format. However, coach Anil Kumble had defended his approach, saying strike rate was irrelevant in Test cricket. (Scorecard)
Kohli’s comments weren’t taken kindly by everyone as the Saurashtra batsman, who has produced aggressive knocks in domestic cricket, plays the role of an anchor at No 3.
However, on Sunday, Pujara revealed his aggressive game even as his skipper was trying to find his bearings with singles and twos. It left Virat Kohli impressed.
After Pujara hit a six with a stunning hook, taking on the bowling after Bangladesh tried to trap him with a fielder at long leg, Kohli was seen pumping his fists.
His unbeaten 54 off 58 balls, with a strike rate of 93.10, helped India declare and set Bangladesh an improbable fourth-innings target of 459. Bangladesh were 103 for three at stumps on Day 4.
“We wanted to accelerate and bat for a session. There is a perception I can’t play many shots. If you look at domestic cricket, and overall that I have played, this was one of the occasions that gave me an opportunity to express myself and I did that,” said Pujara.
Pujara’s first innings 83 took him 177 balls. It was slow but helped India consolidate as they’d lost an early wicket.
His knocks at domestic level, however, haven’t fetched him an Indian Premier League deal, but the batsman is hopeful.
“I am very hopeful the perception will go soon. I have got a T20 hundred in DY Patil tournament. I am batting freely and have added a few shots to my game which is helping me. Even in the Test format, I am striking the ball well. I have changed my game which is helping me in T20 and one-day games. In the near future, I think things will change.”
India had needed quick runs after Bangladesh hung on in their first innings till lunch.
“When I went into bat, the idea was to score as many as runs as possible. We were looking at 150 to 200 runs on the board. We wanted to express ourselves. I was batting freely, I knew I will have to keep hitting the ball, and ultimately I am happy with the way things went.”