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India vs England: How Cheteshwar Pujara improved his game ahead of Southampton Test

Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 132 on Friday helped India post 273 in the first innings and take a 27-run lead against England on the second day of the fourth Test at the Ageas Bowl.

cricket Updated: Sep 01, 2018 15:38 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Southampton
India vs England,Cheteshwar Pujara,Southampton Test
Cheteshwar Pujara in action on Day 2 of the fourth Test between India and England.(AFP)

Cheteshwar Pujara’s brilliant century in the fourth Test against England stood out for the certainty in his shots as well being selective about playing or leaving in an unbeaten 132 that lifted India after a batting collapse.

Pujara, not picked for the Edgbaston Test, faced 87 balls in the second at Lord’s to score 17. The India No 3 then hit 72 in Trent Bridge to show a return to form before his solid innings on Friday.

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar said Pujara had technical issues but had rectified them.

“Right from where he got in to play at Lord’s to how he batted in Nottingham and whatever he did out here, he showed a lot of composure, clarity of thought and great discipline in his judgement outside off,” he said on Friday evening, as the batsman was too exhausted to talk to the media after a six-hour knock.

TECHNICAL ISSUES

“Birmingham is too much in the past,” he said when asked about his omission for the first Test. “He was coming off a rough patch and also he hadn’t really scored as many runs as he’d have liked in the last 10-11 innings for India.

“He was struggling… certain areas had to be worked on. He had to get his balance right and also had to get his footwork right. Those were the two areas we worked on as a support-staff group -- including Ravi (Shastri) and myself. It’s heartening the work he put in was duly rewarded.

READ: Cheteshwar Pujara hits brilliant century, keeps India just ahead

“We feel once he gets on a roll, he generally makes sure he carries on in that fashion. His hunger for runs is well-known and he’s known to play long innings. It augurs well for the India team. With three innings remaining, if he continues in this fashion, it will put the team in winning positions.”

Bangar said: “Talent cannot be seen merely in class, but in bloodyminded-ness too. He showed mental strength, patience and the concentration today. If you have those characteristics you can show that even if you have some limitations in terms of scoring areas or not possessing all the strokes you can become an effective Test player. That is what he showed today.

“He executed his shots really well because you saw a great mix of caution and aggression. You also saw another facet of his batsmanship wherein he showed us a glimpse of what he could do when he is batting with the tail.

Bangar criticised Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin for throwing their wickets away. Pandya casually flicked off-spinner Moeen Ali to be caught, while Ashwin was bowled while reverse-sweeping.

“We thought two dismissals were pretty soft. Hardik really wasn’t on top of the ball while driving and Ashwin attempted a reverse sweep at a pretty early stage in his innings. If he was set and batting with the tail, one could have thought that shot was on…”

He said Indian batsmen will find it tough in the fourth innings. “It’s going to be a challenging surface. The ball has swung around throughout but what is also apparent is the wicket is getting slower. There is enough time for the batsmen to adjust.”

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 07:12 IST