I never like to get out, says Pujara

A rather shy smile accompanies Cheteshwar Pujara’s replies to the questions directed to him, however annoying or tricky they might be.

That’s quite understandable because he has played just six Tests thus far, and has not been on the treadmill of international cricket as some of his colleagues have been. He might be feeling a freshness in everything around him now.

A question on whether he had any interaction with Rahul Dravid, his predecessor at the number three slot, made him beam with happiness – just like a kid presented with a new toy.

“I got a text message from Dravid yesterday, congratulating me,” said Pujara, without making any effort to hide his delight.

If you thought the smile was all about receiving a pat from the legend, you were in for a surprise. Sample this. The query was of a serious nature about the challenges batting at a crucial slot in the batting order, but the smile never faded from his face.

“It’s always important to bat up the order. I always like challenges. When you’re at No 3 you often get to face the new ball. It’s a big responsibility to bat at No 3.”

The smile, then, revealed a man happy with the burden entrusted on him.
Behind that smile, there’s a pragmatic and practical mind as well and that came forth when he answered a query about his time ahead at number three. “I’m not really worried about my future. I just want to focus on each and every game. If I continue to score like this then I have a bright future. I don’t want to take anything for granted.”

As a batsman who would like to score big runs, Pujara missed on a three-figure mark while playing for Mumbai ‘A’ in the warm-up game against England, and the Saurashtra man said he used that as a motivation.

“It was good that I got out on 87 in the practice game. If I had ended up scoring a hundred I wouldn’t have had the same motivation to make 100 and then 200 in this game. Here, initially my concern was Swann because I hadn’t faced him before. But after I faced a couple of overs against him I felt that I could manage.”

Time now, then, to learn the secret of Pujara getting tall scores consistently. “I never like to get out. There’s always a price on my wicket. Even after scoring a double hundred, I never wanted to give away my wicket. That’s the reason why I’m able to score big runs.”
There was a chance for Pujara to score some psychological points over England, who were struggling at 41 for three after day two. Even if he has played only six Tests, Pujara showed the smartness to play the game of one-upmanship.

“There’s quite a lot of rough on the wicket and it’s turning quite big. The kind of momentum we got in these 18 overs, I think we can bowl them out tomorrow. It’s going to be a challenging task for them. The way they were batting it looked like they were a fragile batting line-up,” he said.

Now, time to listen to his dreams. “Once you get big scores in home conditions you get a lot of confidence. I would love to go abroad and repeat the same kind of performances there as well.”

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