Chennai: It was two years ago in Sri Lanka with his career going up a blind alley that Cheteshwar Pujara got a second wind when he carried his bat to make an unbeaten 145 as a makeshift opener in the third and decisive Test in Colombo.
According to the 29-year-old batsman from Saurashtra, that innings helped him find his feet after a prolonged period of slump in form. With another tour of the island country imminent, the soft-spoken Pujara is confident that India would continue their dominant run away from home.
Excerpts from an interview:
On his memories of scoring an unbeaten hundred in Colombo in 2015: I was making a comeback then and I can say now that it was a career-defining innings. I was under a lot of pressure going into that match. Although I was going through a lean patch until then, I always thought I belonged to the highest level. I learnt a lot from my failures and worked hard on correcting my flaws. I never lost faith in my ability during that testing phase and more than silencing my critics, I was glad that I proved to my own self that I could perform when the going got tough. I’m looking forward to doing well in Sri Lanka again when we tour in August.
On his county stint: I enjoyed playing for Nottinghamshire. I got to play on challenging wickets that were conducive to seam and swing. Facing up to the fast bowlers is an altogether different experience in England. I also got to spend some time with Stuart Broad, Samit Patel and their coach Peter Moores. They made me feel at home. I would love to go back next season and I hope that some of the other Indian players will get an opportunity to play county cricket.
On the South African tour this year end: We did well there the last time in 2013. We have an experienced team now and almost all the players in the current set-up have had the experience of playing there. We are just coming off a remarkable home season. That confidence will come in handy but for now our focus is on doing the best we can in Sri Lanka.
On the Australian series: It was one of the best series I have been a part of. We fought back tremendously after losing the first Test at Pune. We were challenged by Australia and personally I was happy to contribute when my team needed someone to step up.
On seeking inputs from Rahul Dravid: I can’t thank him enough for his guidance and support when I needed it the most. India is fortunate that he is coaching the U-19 and the ‘A’ team. When I lost my place in the team, he told me there was nothing wrong with my technique and that I was just one innings away from turning a corner. He used to come and watch me bat at the nets and offer inputs on how to cope with adversity.