For most international sides, present or past, the best Test batsmen always occupy the No 3 and No 4 slots. It is where the most important batsmen thrive.
For India, currently, those two slots are occupied by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli — two batsmen who have their own signature way of dominating the opposition bowlers. While Pujara dulls them with his determination, Kohli enjoys stamping his authority with his stroke-making skills (as well as running between the wickets).
Not long before, India were the No 1 ranked side in the world and these two men had a big role to play over the past few years in the team reaching and staying at the top for as long as they did.
And, as is the case with most successful partnerships in Tests, the secret seems to be communication.
“As soon as he comes, he will ask what are they (the opposition) trying to do, how the ball is swinging. If it’s a left-arm seamer, what are the angles he is using, whether he’s trying to bowl an inswinger or an away-swinger. There’s a lot of communication,” Pujara told Harsha Bhogle during the chat show Cricbuzz in Conversation.
Pujara explained that opponents tend to focus on getting Kohli out early whenever he walks out to bat, and that gives the Saurashtra batsman a few easy deliveries to put away.
“I enjoy batting with Kohli because he’s a positive player. Once he’s at the crease, I know that bowlers will try and take his wicket because they feel that they can get him out early,” Pujara said,
Most partnership runs among active Indian pairs
|Kohli & Rahane||53||3271||365||64.13||10||14|
|Kohli & Pujara||62||2894||226||47.44||7||14|
|Vijay & Pujara||45||2813||370||62.51||10||9|
In addition, Pujara also said that Kohli was a keen listener when given insights.
“There are times where he would’ve played a cover drive when the ball is on the fifth or sixth stump, and I’ll go and communicate to him that this is too wide. He plays his natural game, no doubt about that but he’s ready to listen to that advice. Because if the ball is too wide for a cover drive, he also understands that it is not in his zone so he doesn’t need to play that.
“He will play a cover drive on the ball which is on the off-stump or fourth stump, but if it is on fifth stump, he will listen. He will tell me ‘yeah I didn’t play that well’,” said Pujara.
You can watch the two parts of his interview with Cricbuzz here: