Tamil Nadu v Saurashtra, Ranji Trophy, Group B, 3rd day November 30, 2013

Pujara keen to 'carry confidence' from Ranji to South Africa

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Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a classy, unbeaten 152 for Saurashtra on the third day of the Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu, said his intention was to make maximum use of his last competitive game before the upcoming tour of South Africa.

Pujara is only expected to join the India squad before the Tests, in time for the two-day tour game in Benoni which starts on December 14, but Saurashtra do no feature in the next round of Ranji matches. In Chennai, he batted through the third day as Saurashtra pursued Tamil Nadu's 565 for 8. It was his third consecutive first-class century, following his 113 in the Mumbai Test against West Indies and 102 for Saurashtra against Bengal before this game. In October, he had scored a triple-hundred against West Indies A.

"In this particular innings, I wanted to be more focused, as it was the last practice match for me before going to South Africa," Pujara said. "Saurashtra are not playing any more matches before my departure. I just wanted to make sure that I play a big knock and carry the confidence to South Africa."

Pujara, who has a reputation for occupying the crease and compiling big scores, saw off a tricky period under overcast conditions in the morning, when the seamers held some sway. He said it was difficult to get on top of the bowlers early on but was later rewarded for his patience once the conditions eased out. His knock included 21 fours, several of which were due to his wristwork.

Pujara, admitting that it would be difficult to simulate South African conditions in India, said that dealing with short-pitched deliveries will be key to enjoying success there. "Whatever practice I do before the tour will be about getting used to the bounce," he said. "You can't compare this with what you will get in South Africa. But there was some bounce on this wicket, if you compare it with other pitches in India.

"What I have been working on is to avoid the hook shot and pull. Maybe I can play it when the wicket is slow. But when I am getting enough runs, I don't have a reason to play them."

He said the Indian batsmen had improved over time against the short ball. "I don't think we are struggling against the short ball anymore," he said. We have been working on it. Our team is doing well in ODIs in overseas conditions. It's just about getting used to it in Tests."

India's previous visit to South Africa, in 2010-11, was Pujara's first tour with the national side and he struggled, scoring only 31 runs in three innings. Pujara batted at No. 6 on that tour, but has now made the No. 3 position his own following Rahul Dravid's retirement.

"I like to take responsibility. Since my Under-14 days I have been playing in the top order. You have to understand the situation and play. I feel that the way I have been performing in the last one and a half years has been incredible."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • naren1983 on December 4, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    India have definitely in positive vibration with the youngsters around playing together and enjoying their successes. There wont be any issues in dealing ODIs as they likely to clinch 2-1 vs SA. But there comes the Tests comes after to be tough, challenge etc, but definitely India has something to prove their point in Tests arena this time that had missed in last overseas in Eng & Aus where seniors have struggled a lot and resulted in their retirements for greats like VVS, Dravid & Sachin you can say. These youngsters courage to play short balls and attacking mind will take them to close to winning to test series, until that we need to wait & see.

  • dummy4fb on December 1, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    Hi optimiser thanks for agreeing with me. Pujara's the best Indian batsman in my mind in the Indian team. There's a strong Indian batting team but can they handle the bounce in South Africa without experience in there team like Tendulkar and Dravid? Who have both retired. Dhoni bats to low in the order to have a major impact in talking to others while batting with him out in the middle. Kallis is the greatest cricket player in the history of the game. He's a player who can score big hundreds and take wickets. His stats will never be broken ever. He's still playing cricket. I hope he keeps playing for many years to come. Best player of all time to me. No one has taken that many wickets and scored that many runs as a all-rounder. He's done better than most bowlers and batsmen. Well time will tell who's gonna win.

  • arnie66 on December 1, 2013, 20:44 GMT

    Here's the link to India A vs SA A tournament in Aug this year.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/series/630755.html

    All the three teams sent some current players and so it was less of a A Series tour. As you can see, the test matches were split and South Africa A didnot reach the final (it was between India A and Aus A which India A won.

    As an Indian supporter, I feel that South Africa A has the advantage of home conditions but it would be closer than it's predicted on these message boards. These are 2 of the best sides in the world currently. If you check the ICC rankings, these sides are on the top 4 in all formats for the last few years and there are a number of players in the top 10 in the batsman/bowlers. It will be an engaging contest for sure !

  • dummy4fb on December 1, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    this wud be a mouth watering series even a draw in the series would mean a gr8 deal to the young brigade in their next few months

  • dummy4fb on December 1, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    Whilst expectations of triumph in the Test series are low, there's optimism the young brigade won't repeat the lows of England 2011 and Australia 2011-12. Pride and purpose should result in an improved performance.

  • OttawaRocks on December 1, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    An Indian fan but an honest one. SA will win the test series easily whether its 1-0 or 2-0. Basically, the virtual truth of test cricket is that winning away is doubly hard compared to any other sport. The home team will have played and learned the idiosyncrasies of their pitches such that any domestic league player can be substituted into the team to perform at high level on demand. This is not only true of SA, but its also true of England, Pakistan, India and Australia. Going in, India will have the additional handicap of carrying an (almost) entire team of inexperienced players for batting. While Dhoni will have away experience his batting strengths are in the non-test arena (as far as away tests is concerned). Thus, we have a bunch of newbies ready to plucked by Steyn and his buddies. Hope I'm wrong but as I said before, I call a spade a spade.

  • Naresh28 on December 1, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    PUJARA recently toured SA with the A-team, so SA is not new to him. Some fans seem to think that India has not done well in SA or have not played in SA. We look back and see that an Indian team has won a T20 tournament in SA and also came runners up in a WC ODI in 2003. For India's success in SA this time around they need a careful selection of the bowlers which is where we dont fare well - bowlers tend to give up after the inital failures and the game runs away from them.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on December 1, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    I am expecting India to win the ODI series 2-1 , but tests am afraid is going to be a different ballgame altogether , SA is the firm favorites if steyn ,philander and morkel remains fit , also cant help saying this again and again , a two match test series between two such cricketing powers is ridiculous ! it should have been minimum of 4 matches , would have provided enough time for our youngsters to improve their game against the toughest challenge in world cricket at the moment eagerly waiting to see how good pujara , kohli and rohit sharma are on away pitches

  • Bladerunners on December 1, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    Indian fans r hoping nd praying sa give flat tracks just like last time.ind dont have any idea how real sa pitches r.sa should go hard at this ind like eng nd aus.they should not think about ipl money.

  • suresh.sure06 on December 1, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    @ Cricket_is_Unpopular, please clarify, why travelling batsmen doesnt score big runs in so called road tracks in asia???stopping this sought of judgement..Asian pitch are spinner friendly tracks and there are 2 art of bowling FAST & SPIN.Even best spinners are plundered in the home turf by the asian batsmen.As we accept that we are not good players under overcast and bouncy tracks.please accept that u cant play spin.This young team(rohit,dhawan,kholi,pujara,rahanae) has the temperament and attitude to convert the starts and score big,but none of the young players in other team has that,thats why this group of young team(Excpet vijay,T20 has affected his patience to leave the good balls ) is very highly ratted.

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