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Orthodox Cheteshwar Pujara changes intent to find footing in limited-overs formats

Cheteshwar Pujara’s motivation is simply to keep improving, and in keeping with that the India No.3 batsman says he has decided to show more intent by adding to his range of strokes.

india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 Updated: Jul 30, 2017 21:42 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Galle
Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara had made 153 against Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle.
Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara had made 153 against Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle.(Reuters)

Cheteshwar Pujara doesn’t like to set targets. He doesn’t even have a target for his 50thTest. Thinking too far ahead doesn’t help, he feels.

Pujara’s motivation is simply to keep improving. And in keeping with that the India No 3 batsman says he has decided to show more intent by adding to his range of strokes.

READ | Cheteshwar Pujara: Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel reality check strengthened resolve

“I have been batting well, and the one thing I have changed is my intent. I would also like to add a few more shots in my batting. I have already started working on it. Playing different formats is something I would like to do. The way I am batting now, I am very confident I can add a few more shots which will help me play different formats,” said Pujara, for whom the next Test in Colombo from August 3 will be his 50th.

“I would just like to take one Test at a time, I mean one innings at a time. So, when I’m moving into my 50th Test, I don’t think I should be too emotional about it.”

The Sinhalese Sports Club venue holds special significance in his career. Desperate for a comeback, Pujara was roped in as makeshift opener due to injuries on the 2015 tour and he hit a match-winning 145 not out, carrying his bat. He hasn’t looked back since.

READ | Captain Virat Kohli displays icy nerves despite upheaval in Indian dressing room

“When I got a hundred in Sri Lanka, everything changed,” declared Pujara.

Asked what support he got from his captain and then coach (Ravi Shastri) “There was time when, as I said, I didn’t score many runs. But everyone was confident enough that I’ll make a comeback. When I played my comeback Test, many players, after I scored runs, came and said ‘we knew that you will score these runs’. I was really happy to hear that and overall we have a very nice environment.”

‘Experience will boost India’s overseas performances’

The Sri Lanka tour is the start of a testing phase for the India Test team as they are due to play in South Africa, England and Australia, places where they have lost on their previous tours.

However, Pujara is confident of India faring better this time because the same bunch of players has gained much more experience with most having played around 50 Tests.

READ | India vs Sri Lanka: Visitors face selection ‘dilemma’ after Galle Test victory

“It will make a big difference because as a team, you want players who are experienced enough. When we first toured South Africa, New Zealand and England, we were a young team, we didn’t know what to expect from the opposition. And sometimes, we also didn’t know what our strengths were in such conditions. But now when we go back there, we will have a clear game plan. Our bowlers will know which areas to bowl, and even as a batting unit, we will be very clear.”

First Published: Jul 30, 2017 21:40 IST

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