India A v West Indies A, 3rd unofficial Test, Hubli, 4th day October 12, 2013

'One of my best domestic innings' - Pujara


Cheteshwar Pujara, the India batsman, has rated his triple-century in Hubli as one of his best non-international innings. Upon reaching the landmark, he was elevated into an elite club of players who have hit three or more triples in their career, with only eight men before him having achieved this feat. More importantly, though, it came at a good clip, and gave India A enough time to bowl West Indies A out to share the three-match series 1-1.

This was also a rare series in which Pujara hadn't made a big contribution, until the last match. "It was one of the best innings in my domestic career because the wicket was doing a bit," he said. "There was enough help for the fast bowlers. I didn't get runs in the first two games. I never enjoy getting out. I really was frustrated because I felt that I was in good touch, but the runs were not coming. I would rate [this] as one of my best innings at the domestic level."

The three low scores might have frustrated Pujara, but there was always a feeling a turnaround was close. "I knew that there is a big one due but as a batsman, you never know. It is a matter of one ball," Pujara said. "At times you go through a phase where you want to succeed but you might not. But it is very important as a batsman to be focused, and the important thing was I was working hard. Whenever you are in good form, the best way to come back is to work hard in the nets. That is what I was doing."

What is the secret to scoring triples, though? After all, there are many great batsmen who have gone through their careers without scoring one, let alone three. "It's the hunger to score runs," Pujara said. "I think for this particular success, the failure in the first two games motivated me a lot. The kind of expectations people have, from the kind of ability I have, I have to live up to the expectations. This was the right time because it was an important match for us and I always like to score big runs.

"I always feel that when I cross the 100-mark, that's when I can start playing my natural game. All the shots come very naturally, and I don't have to put up any hard work or extra concentration because the rest of the things are all natural things, and I just go through the motions after I go through the hundred."

Does that mean that once the hundred is scored some pressure is lifted and it frees him up? "I think mentally I am very free once I score a hundred," Pujara said, "because as a batsman, you know the conditions, the bowler and most of the time the bowlers are tired. So you just have to use your brain and capitalise on the loose balls. And you also know what time to accelerate and what time you have to respect the bowler."

Capitalising on tired bowlers is one thing, to overcome your own tiredness is quite another. "Obviously, when you score a triple-hundred, you need a lot of stamina," Pujara said. "To be on the field for more than 10 hours is difficult, and you also have to field. So it's not an easy job, but I have been working for the past three-four months on my fitness, which is paying off."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on October 14, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    @Naresh28: Pujara scored 306* @ a S/R of 73 without any "ariel shots". Kohli, the highest scoring Indian batsman, scored 61 vs. the Aussies in ODI #1 at a S/R of 71. Remember Kohli was playing with smaller boundary & to ODI's generous rules, inclined in favour of batsman. By including Pujara in the ODI, India is merely reinforcing its batting & adding a sheet anchor. He can be that elusive #4 that "Dhoni is searching for", if Kohli wants #3. Trying to make #4 out of Raina- a finisher in ODI's , is curbing his natural game. #3 or 4 are natural positions for both Pujara & Kohli. So fitting the right talent to available spots is more justified that trying to convert some one into position not suited to them. Even Yuvraj - now playing #4 - is more suited for #5 or #6. You need guys with good defence, footwork & sound technique for #'s 1 to 4. I do not agree that by playing Pujara in ODI's, his batting technique is spoilt. Pujara - a sheet anchor, will plug the huge missing void!

  • Srinivas on October 14, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    @selectors: Pujara is badly needed in ODIs. Period!

  • Subramani on October 14, 2013, 11:49 GMT

    I think Ishant Vinay and Ashwin should make way for Umesh Yadav,Rakesh Shukla/Mohit Sharma and Amit Mishra who is also a good batsman as we saw in England in 2011. I do not think just because you play Pujara or even Juneja you are going to affect their game which is based on maturity and self analysis. Not in the belief of being infallible and being arrogant. The selectors are doing an excellent job. But they need to infuse fresh blood to play alongside mature and experienced players. Dhawan has been good and it serves no purpose criticising him for one bad failure. Rohit has been Ok as well without being too good. Nampally in Australia India lost mostly because of the green tops with all of Australia's fast bowlers being absolutely fit. The luck with the toss also played a big part there as you can see. Pune's wicket was a lot like the wickets at Brisbane and Melbourne.If Pujara is brought in he should be told that he would play for the next 10 games.That way his best will surface.

  • Naresh on October 14, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Pujara is being protected by the selectors. ODI's could spoil his technique if he is called upon to take aerial shots, but here is a player who is level headed. Just reading some of his comments above, I feel with time this guy could be in ODI's as well. Pujara, Rahane and Juneja are among the best young batting talent we have for the long format. It could make our ODI team better if we have another solid player in middle order to compliment Kohli.

  • Dummy4 on October 14, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    A Captain of India in making...! Leading from the front...!

  • Ashok on October 13, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    @Roleplay: I do not need to elaborate on India's batting limitations vs. Pace bowling. In England & in Australia tour they were all at sea against the pace bowlers. Today they were once again put to test in the first ODI vs. Australia. First 8 wkts, went to the pace bowlers. This comes from weak & sometimes incorrect footwork & defence. In this respect Pujara's technique against all types of bowling is good & his defence + footwork matches that of Gavaskar. This is the reason I feel that he is one missing guy from the Indian batting - be it at the Test or ODI level. Indian Selectors will only realize & learn the hard way from defeats & batting failures. In addition the Indian bowling hardly gets any attention as long as batting success totally masks the weak bowling. Anyway my suggestion is for an improved batting side which is badly needed. Sooner or later this message will get thru' to the Selectors - hopefully during this Aussie series of 7 ODI's vs. Pace bowling!

  • Sachin on October 13, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    Rahane, Pujara, M.Tiwary, Rayudu, Kartik, etc all are the player who would be playing in first XI in other teams.

  • Dummy4 on October 13, 2013, 1:07 GMT

    @:Nampally on (October 12, 2013, 17:07 GMT):

    When we say "the best batsman"; we should also ask the question, for what? For which format? In what slot? In what playing conditions? Against which opposition? At what stage in the competition?

    The current selectors are the best we have seen in ages to ask & answer these questions well. At level one. Of course, they can not select more than 15 for any series /tournament. So they use multiple tournaments to try out as many as possible.

    Duncan & Dhoni are OK to do the next level filtering. The only debatable issue is, Dhoni has the tendency to give a very long rope, to players, even after they start showing decline over quite a few matches. Patience? Loyalty? Giving yet another chance? Whatever? It works sometime. Doesn't work many other time. Current example is Ashwin? So, it is 50:50 as of now. It is a sign of balanced judgement. If the 50:50 success rate in such (only in such) cases, tilts in either direction; then, there is a problem.

  • Dummy4 on October 12, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    @Class9Ryan, if Pujara gets a triple hundred in a test match for India, he will have batted 7 sessions ! it will probably become a dead game. In today's age of 90 overs / day, if you want a triple hundred to win a match for your side, you have to strike at 75+ ...unless you have fielded first & your bowlers have got the opposition all out in 2 sessions in the first innings. When India are batting first, I would prefer triple hundreds from Sewag, Dhawan OR Dhoni (moving up the order a bit). These guys will strike about 80+ which means India would be close to if not beyond 600 by tea on day 2. Gives India 10 sessions to get 20 opposition wickets.

  • Pratyush on October 12, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    I have said this a lot if time and say it again - Pujara is a very fine batsman, however please do not put undue pressure on him becoming a Dravid. Let him find his way in Intl. Cricket.

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