Ahead of the second Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2023 series, R Ashwin stated that Cheteshwar Pujara’s game is an extension of his stubborn personality.
When the Rohit Sharma-led team plays Australia in the Delhi Test on Friday, the Indian batter is set to take the field in his 100th Test for his country.
Pujara also has the chance to become just the fourth Indian batter to score 2,000 runs in Tests against Australia. Just 100 more runs will make him the only other active Indian batter other than Virat Kohli to accomplish the milestone.
Talking about Pujara, Ashwin wrote in a column for ESPNCricinfo, “The first thing about him was how quick he was on his feet. The moment you tossed it up a little, he’d step out and get to the pitch of the ball. He wouldn’t hit it in the air. If he wanted to make runs - he’d still hit it along the ground, but ferociously. Puji is one of the greatest at playing percentages against spin.”
He added: “During all these years of knowing him, I have learnt that his game is just an extension of his personality. And his personality is stubborn. You just can’t win an argument with him. He never concedes a point. I enjoy seeing his stubborn side, so I try to lead him into arguments while others around say, ‘Ash, you know you are not going to win’.”
Pujara's runs according to opposition
|v New Zealand||12||23||867||159||39.40||2061||42.06||2||4||1||108||3|
|v South Africa||17||29||882||153||30.41||2060||42.81||1||6||3||123||5|
|v Sri Lanka||7||11||743||153||74.30||1491||49.83||4||1||1||76||1|
|v West Indies||9||10||348||113||34.80||748||46.52||1||1||0||38||0|
Pujara is one of India’s cornerstones in Test cricket. Ashwin discussed his shortcomings as well, but he provided an explanation of why it is difficult to overcome them before referring to him as ‘Mirugam.’
He said: “You can’t convince him to change. I used to use a Tamil nickname for him with Shankar Basu, our previous trainer: Mirugam, the beast. Just like a beast focuses single-mindedly on its prey, Puji focuses on batting.”
“One of the arguments I lost to Mirugam was in trying to get him to expand his game. I always believed he could have been an excellent one-day batter. He had the natural ability to rotate the strike in the middle overs.
“With all the knowledge he has acquired over the years, I felt he could have been a more explosive batter, but I can also understand his challenges. He has had two career-threatening injuries, he has been in and out of the only format he plays, so I can see why it is not easy to veer away from what he knows the best,” the Indian off-spinner added.
India registered a crushing win against Australia in the first Test, defeating them by an innings and 132 runs. After the Delhi Test, they will play the third Test at Indore and the fourth Test at Ahmedabad.
You can read the full column here on ESPNCricinfo