Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said that he couldn’t have done anything better than what he did after his batting came in for criticism from some quarters on the third day of the ongoing Sydney Test against Australia.
Pujara 50 off 176 balls – his slowest ever Test half-century – but was the joint highest scorer for the team in the first innings, alongside Shubman Gill who also made 50.
“The way I was batting, I was confident that if I got a good ball I just have to accept it and not think too much about it. I could not have done anything better than what I did today. I feel that I just have to bat the way I bat and continue the same way,” Pujara said during the press conference.
The No 3 batsmen credited the Australian bowling attack and said that Pat Cummins bowled the “ball of the series” to get him out.
“I felt I couldn’t have done anything better even if I was batting on a hundred or a double-hundred. I don’t think I could have survived that particular ball, which kicked off from back of a length. I had to play that ball. And there was extra bounce. It was just one ball that was really good. To be honest I couldn’t get away with that. You just have to accept it. He bowls unplayable deliveries. I felt that was the best ball of this series.... When it’s not your day, the margin of error is very little,” he explained.
The 32-year-old also said he was managing the finger injury he sustained during nets at the MCG and he is able to bat even if not fully fit.
“I don’t think it (the finger injury) put any trouble as far as my batting is concerned. It’s not easy and I am not a 100% (fit). I won’t say I am completely normal. This was something that was expected and I can manage this little bit of pain. It’s an important game so I can’t miss out,” said Pujara.
Asked why he didn’t bring out the hook or pull shot when Australian bowlers employed the three-man leg side trap, Pujara said: “They bowled good line and lengths. They had a fair idea of this pitch. I think we should give credit to the way they bowled. They didn’t give too many loose balls,” he said.
“If you look at our fast bowling line-up, they are slightly inexperienced but they are improving day by day, they will get better. It’s a good opportunity for them to learn and I am sure we have a good bunch of fast bowlers who can learn from best and get better as they play more games,” he said.
Pujara termed Rishabh Pant’s dismissal as the turning point of the Indian innings.
“If you look at the way our innings was progressing, we were in trouble only when Rishabh got out. Till then we were in a comfortable position. We were 180/4, and we were doing well. Things turned around when Rishabh got out and then I got out. We didn’t score many after that. Losing Rishabh was a turnaround.
“If we had a partnership going, we would have certainly put a decent total on the board. Our aim was to get close to 330 or 340 but we missed out there. And yes, losing Ajinkya Rahane early in the first session was also a big blow.”
He added that Pant’s scan results are awaited, after he left the field with injury.
Pujara said that losing Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the second innings is a blow for India as they are now a bowler short.
“To be honest, it does affect us as we are only left with four bowlers. It puts a little extra pressure on other bowlers to come in and bowl extra overs. It’s never easy to lose a bowler, especially someone like Ravindra who got four wickets in first innings and can keep bowling from one end.
“Jadeja can land the ball on the same spot and he puts pressure on the batsmen, he bowls many dot balls. He is always valuable not just as a bowler but also a fielder. It’s a kind of blow for us but we will come back strongly. The first session on day four will be crucial. We will definitely put up a better show tomorrow morning.”