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I know what to expect from Dale Steyn: Cheteshwar Pujara

first_imgWith India’s regular openers injured and an uncharacteristic green wicket prepared to unsettle Indian batsmen, the series was on the line for India’s young test team in Sri Lanka. Enter the crisis man Cheteshwar Pujara. For all his failings in England and Australia, Pujara’s fighting 145 in his comeback and the decisive test match of the series, helped India script a historic win.India Today met up with the gritty Saurashtra batsman at his newly acquired ground in the outskirts of Rajkot where his father and former Ranji player Arvind Pujara trains aspiring cricketers through the day. Father Arvind is no mean coach as Cheteshwar still falls back on him for matters of technique. His father doesn’t travel to watch Cheteshwar live from ground, simply because watching on the telly with replays and commentary helps him provide better feedback to his cricketer son.Pujara may have done the best he could of the opportunity at SSC but he would still not know if that’s  enough to win back his test place and the favored no.3 spot with Vijay and Dhawan expected to be fit again and Rahane the incumbent no.3. Here’s Cheteshwar Pujara in this exclusive interview on the many battles he continues to fight to stay relevant in the modern day game..Q. You are looked my many as ‘a crisis man’. How do you take it?A. When the team needs runs, responsibility is something I have always batted with. That’s what I have always done.Q. For eight months between three series, Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, you waited to play a test match. How difficult a phase was that?A. Was a tough time to be honest. The kind of start I had and then the lean patch. But the main thing was self belief. The best thing came from Rahul Dravid who told me there was nothing wrong with my technique and asked me to keep believing in myself and that my time will come and it did come. Eventually when I got an opportunity in Sri Lanka and the way I batted I was quite pleased after all the hard work I had put in before Sri Lanka in the last few months.Q. Was there any technical shortcoming as well? This one particular mode of dismissal —  the incoming delivery that broke your defense more than you would have liked?A. ?Sometimes you don’t want to be too harsh on yourself. The conditions were challenging. Especially if you see in England I was getting to starts and batting well. I was able to play 100 balls. If you are out of form, you can’t bat that long. So I was getting set and then getting out. There were some things I realized I had to work on and start converting 30’s and 40’s into big ones. Eventually I started working on it and it happened.Q. Happened and how. A Man of the Match winning performance. Describe to us your feeling when you completed that ton at SSC and when you got the ovation from the dressing room after that innings..A. It was really satisfying. I can’t describe it in words. The amount of hard work I was putting in, in lead up to the series and during my tough time. I thought this was my opportunity although the conditions were difficult. But there was responsibility because the series was leveled and an opportunity to contribute for team’s success. I wanted to keep my mind blank and enjoy my batting when I went in to bat. Once I was set, started playing my shots. Than we lost few wickets before which Mishra came in and we got 300 plus. Virat, Ravi and the entire dressing room came and congratulated me because I got hundred after being away from the eleven.Q. On such occasions is success on comeback even more satisfying than doing well on debut?A. There are mixed feelings.  You are nervous because it’s your debut. When you are on a comeback trail, you know that you can perform at that level. But there is still pressure and nervous times because you have sat out.Q. There is a feeling more and more teams are looking for a no.3 ?who can counter attack than grind the opposition down. Is that why you had to sit out recently?A.? You have to play by the situation. You still need a batsman who can see through the new ball. Who can look to be positive and rotate the strike but still not lose many wickets early on. With my game once I am in the runs will come. Don’t think there are any issues to worry about. If I keep adding few shots to my game, it will help me in the long run.Q. Any specific shot that you are working at?A. I don’t want to disclose any particular shot. But there are a few shots I am working on and with time, I will be able to execute them as well.Q. For someone like you who plays only one format currently, is there a fear that the recall value of your last successful innings is limited. In the one dayers next, someone might hit the purple patch and the last test series performances may get forgotten?A. People still recognize the good innings you play. If you are scoring consistently in test format you should not worry too much. But if you are playing all the formats it becomes little easier I would agree to that. The way I am playing in tests is good. I am also working on my game to make it into the odi and T20 which I want to play. I will only become a better player with that.Q. We’re you surprised that no one bid for you in the last IPL?A. I wanted to play the IPL. It didn’t go as I was expecting. I ultimately got a chance to play county and a season with Yorkshire. So it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I played 4-5 games there and that practice ultimately helped.Q. Being out of odi and T20 cricket also hurts a cricketer financially. How do you cope with that? A. I would definitely like to play all formats of the game. Am trying to add few more shots to my game which will allow me to accelerate. Once I am in, in test cricket, I start playing many shots, it’s about getting used to a few things. If you look at my domestic record? in odi cricket..the amount of runs I have got and at what strike rate..there is no doubt that it will happen. Time will tell. I want to keep working hard and enjoy my gameQ. For someone who has played so much domestic cricket, how do you look at this theory gaining currency that Indian batsmen don’t handle spin as well as they once used to?A. I don’t agree Indians batsmen don’t play spin as well. Bowlers are also becoming clever who know weakness of batsmen  and overseas teams have started producing spinners? and all rounders. Things don’t come as easy from overseas team as what one used to expect. As batsmen you have to respect the bowler. The thing about our Indian team now is we are always trying to improve whether it is against spin or any other aspect.Q. The next challenge is South Africa who tour well. Your battle with Steyn will be well anticipated..A. We will look at what we can improve upon. Not worry about South African team and their game plan too much. ?Steyn is a word class bowler so you have to be balanced when planning against him. I would look to bat the same way that I would against any other bowler. He would have his game plans. But I know what to expect since I have played against him.Q. You had said during your last battle against him that you were a compulsive hooker..A. I didn’t say I am a compulsive hooker but I do like playing that shot. Now I have realized which one to play and which one not to play. So there are times when you can play and other times when it has to be left alone.Q. How keen is the team to walk the talk when you all say we want to be no.1..A. We defiantly want to be no. 1 team in the world. That is something that is at the back of our mind. But have to take it one series at a time. Next up is South Africa and we would try to win the series. Sri Lankan series gave us a lot of confidence and the team was united that’s why we won.Q. Finally, there’s been a fair degree of musical chairs at no.3. Is that the position you want to make your own?A. I would bat wherever the team requires me to bat. But since I have done well at no.3, given a choice I would want to bat there. But ultimately it depends upon the demands of the situation and that’s where I would bat?.last_img read more