Deccan Chronicle

It's all about handling bounce, says Pujara

Deccan Chronicle| c. santhosh kumar

Published on: December 1, 2013 | Updated on: Invalid date

Batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara opens up ahead of the South Africa tour.

Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara

Chennai: Batting mainstay Pujara opens up ahead of the South Africa tour. We did well there in 2010 when we drew the series. The one tough aspect of the last SA tour was that we had to come back hard after losing the first Test. And not to forget the fact that we had chance to win the series, says Cheteshwar Pujara.

The eyes of the cricket world would be on India and South Africa when the top two Test teams lock horns in the upcoming series. Pundits are predicting an acid test for the young Indian side, who would be touring South Africa for the first time without the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.

India's key batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a brilliant unbeaten hundred (152) against Tamil Nadu in the chase of a huge total on Friday, says the pressure of playing the Proteas is not as much as it's been projected.

"We did well there in 2010 when we drew the series. The one tough aspect of the last SA tour was that we had to come back hard after losing the first Test. And not to forget the fact that we had a chance to win the series. The moment we start doing well in the first Test at Johannesburg, I think it will be easier for us to march on," said Pujara, who was part of the team that travelled to South Africa in 2010. Pujara said doing well in SA is important as it would give the players a lot of confidence with India scheduled to play a host of overseas tours in the coming months.

"I will keep it simple. I just want to score runs and we would look to win the series. My target is to perform well in all the overseas tours," said Pujara.

EXCERPTS On his plans to adopt specific drills before SA tour: It's all about getting used to the bounce as South African pitches are traditionally lively. So whatever practice I do before the tour, it will revolve around getting used to the bounce and playing more short-pitched deliveries.

One can't compare the South African wickets and the pitches here. But, there was s o m e bounce on this wicket (a greenish Chepauk wicket rolled out for the Ranji tie against Tamil Nadu) and if you compare it with other Indian wickets, it had enough bounce and carry .

In this particular innings, I wanted to be more focused, because it was the last practice match for me before going to SA. I just wanted to make sure that I got a big knock and carry forward the confidence.

On Indian batsmen's deficiencies against short balls: I don't think we are struggling against it anymore. If others come to India, they struggle against spinners and it happens to everyone who play in foreign conditions. Our team is doing well in ODIs in overseas conditions and it's just about getting used to it in Tests. We have been working on it.

You have cemented the No. 3 slot in Tests and the spot comes with a lot of respon sibility: I like to take respon sibility and it makes me perform better.

Since my U-14 days, I have been playing in that spot and scored most of my runs in the top order.

Cricket is all about reading the situa tion and I have matured a lot in the last two years.

People are compar ing me with Rahul Dravid since he played in the same spot. Personally, I don't do it.

He is a legend nd has scored more than 10,000 runs. I just take it as a compli ment and eave it at that.

The way I have been perform ing in the last ne-and-a-half one-and-a-half years is incredi ble. I just want to carry on and improve my game as much as I can.

How determined are you to come out of the stereotype of a Test specialist?

I have been working on many things including my fielding and fitness.

Take today's innings as example. It's not easy to field for two days and go out to score a hundred in such a humid condition.

Thanks to my fitness, the regime has been rigorous for the last four months.

When you put in such hard work to improve fitness and fielding, it really helps you perform well in ODI formats too.

So, I definitely have that (ODI) in my mind and I think I will get a chance.

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