India vs West Indies: ‘Hope to play with responsibility & consistency like Virat,’ says Cheteshwar Pujara – EXCLUSIVE
Acting doesn’t come naturally to Cheteshwar Pujara. In fact, it doesn’t come at all. No wonder he has the least amount of screen presence to boast about than most of his teammates despite being India’s Test No.3 for more than 7 years. But no one complains and neither does Pujara. No one sweats at Pujara’s strong tendency to break free from the tough on field and friendly away from it notion. Pujara is tough on the field, make no mistake but his body language refuses to reveal it. His face symbolizes calmness even at 20 for 3. His eyes are firm, steady and yet tender. He is miles away from pretension for he is the exact replica of Cheteshwar Pujara the Test batsman even away from the cricket field. If anything else, he’s even gentler.
Pujara approaches a conversation just like he pads up to face the world’s best fast bowlers – alert and attentive, translating his whole energy into a single point of concentration. Eyes fixed on the ball till the very last moment before deciding the course of action in Test cricket and listening to each word of the question attentively before answering, in case of an interview.
In one of those conversations with the Hindustan Times, Cheteshwar Pujara – who was the only man to score a hundred in the warm-up game between India and West Indies A – opens up about his plans for the Caribbean tour, where he was dropped from India’s Test XI for the first time three years ago and much more.
Here are the excerpts…
Q) Your last tour to West Indies in 2016 didn’t go that well, how’s the preparation this time?
Pujara: Really looking forward to the West Indies tour, started the preparations couple of months ago actually. I couldn’t opt for county because the dates clashed with this series, so had to put in hard yards separately. The pitches in Caribbean can surprise you with pace and bounce, so practiced on similar wickets back home in Rajkot.
Q) Will the success of Australia rub off in West Indies?
Pujara: I don’t look at it that way… You have to focus on the process. You have to do what you always do. Especially talking about the last Australia tour, I have learnt a lot of things. I hope I continue the same way.
Q) After the success in Australia is there added pressure for being seen as the best batsman in the team after Virat Kohli?
Pujara: Well, as a top-order batsman you are always under pressure, you always have to play with responsibility, Virat has been doing that with great consistency over the last few years. I have done that in the past too and I’m sure the role will be similar even in future.
Q) What has been the reason behind India’s success in Test cricket?
Pujara: It has been a collective effort. Our bowling has improved a lot. We have a lot of back-ups when it comes to fast bowling. There is some good experience in the spin bowling and batting department, everyone has been doing well in their department. Overall, the progress of Indian team looks good.
Q) What are your thoughts on the World Test Championship?
Pujara: I think it will reinstate the importance of Test cricket. You can no longer go with the mindset of winning just one or two games in a series, you have to treat every game with equal importance, each game carries points so that is going to be brilliant for the game.
Shooting is all about that unwavering focus, a sort of tunnel vision to excel...