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

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

31

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.

  • 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 !

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 !

  • 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

  • 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.

  • optimiser on December 1, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    @Alex Hirsch... Yes, Completely agree with you. I doubt the medium pace of Bhuvi is gonna work & I have seen AB dv play him like a kid during champions trophy. So, highly unlikely he's gonna pose a threat to the likes of amla. Zaheer is back after a long time so have to wait and see how he performs. Too early to call on Shami either.And I have no doubt that umesh is gonna flop because he's has no control whatsoever on his line and length. Though I'm an Indian I dont think bowlers can win this test series for India. Odi is a different ball game though, & could go either ways. Not really excited about Odi's but waiting eagerly for tests

  • Johnny_129 on December 1, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    @ Parth Choksi - Agree and disagree with your comments. Yes, Pujara has exceptional talent. However, he needs to be kept out of the ODI's. The occasional ODI to get match practice won't hurt bit prolonged exposure to the shorter formats will affect his style and water tight defense. Some ODI exposure can be helpful in developing his attacking shots. I remember when Dravid first started Test cricket - He would get bogged down at times. ODI's aided his development in Tests - After several 50's he started getting 100's. Pujara is a long innings man!

  • on December 1, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    I think SA has the best bowling attack in the world and India would be if not number 1 batting team at the moment. I'm leaning towards South Africa because there playing at home and have more chance of taking 20 wickets in a match. Always go for the team who has the better bowling attack because you need 20 wickets to win. You can have the best batting team but it doesn't matter how many runs you score it means nothing if you can't bowl the other side out.

  • on December 1, 2013, 0:51 GMT

    This is two test series,which absolutely baffles me!

  • Hardy1 on November 30, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    He's compared to Rahul Dravid a lot & understandably so because he has succeeded him in the no.3 position & seems to have a similar personality, scores big runs & is best in Tests, but I think Pujara's defense isn't as good as Dravid's but what he does do once he gets in is not only score big but actually score pretty fast too. He's the kind of batsman that wins games once he gets set so if his defense holds up in South Africa, that augurs not only good things for that series but for quite a few years I'd imagine.

  • Al_Bundy1 on November 30, 2013, 23:08 GMT

    Pujara will find out the hard way that the pitches of South Africa are very different from the dead wickets of Saurashtra. Granted, Pujara has the technique to succeed in SA, but he should not get overconfident. Among our batsmen, I think Rohit will do well against SA, followed by Pujara and Kohli. Murli Vijay and Sir Jadeja are sitting ducks for Steyn and Philander.

  • S.Jagernath on November 30, 2013, 21:49 GMT

    @Vishwanath Balachandran.Thats funny.You don't even have your facts straight.India destroyed South Africa on a green top at Kingsmead.

  • Captainman on November 30, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Its basically make or break for these Indian batsman otherwise a failure in SA conditions and it will be the same old story that Indian batsman can only play on roads.

  • GRVJPR on November 30, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Out of all batsmen few should be given a free license to go after bowling. This includes Jadeja, raina, and Yuvi who don't have good defensive techniq. Rather then seeing them getting out let them go after bowling so that we can have some contribution from them. Other than these 3 other batters like Dhoni, Kohli, Dhawan, and Rohit should play their natural game i.e attack and defense whenever they feel is needed. Our batting depth is great with Ashwin the best allrounder at number 8.

  • GRVJPR on November 30, 2013, 19:08 GMT

    Pujara is like snake charmer who will make south african snakes dance on his tune.

  • on November 30, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    I don't think Pujara needs to avoid the pull shot. In fact, he needs to practice it more because it'll only help him in SA.

  • on November 30, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    to all those who say SA is only for fast bowlers... ajmal Man of the series -_-

  • on November 30, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    honestly speaking you would expect at least the trio of pujara kohli and rohit to average above 45 in the SA tests.... they have had the experience of playing against the current SA pacers like steyn morkel et al in the IPL and CLT20 when these were held in SA... so no excuses they need to perform given that they are at their respective peaks.... I do hope that we get decent starts if not overwhelming ones... dhawan enjoys bouncy tracks and should do a good job but the same cannot be said about vijay who is yet to show some real substance against quality attacks... also the lower middle order is fragile with just dhoni acting as the hinge...jadeja and ashwin will need to play some crucial roles with the bat to mould India s fortunes...hope rahane gets at least one test... bowling looks okay and with zaheer shami and bhuvi we should be able to get 20 wickets... so go for the kill India!

  • on November 30, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Vishwanath Balachandran - Kindly do check what was the result of the last match played at durban between SA and India

    BTW, He is not playing this match in Saurashtra. He's Playing in TN.

  • on November 30, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    He deserves to big given a good chance in ODIs too. He will be a great asset for Indian team overseas at Number 3.

  • InsideHedge on November 30, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    The joke will be on you lot when Pujara makes lots of runs in SA, not only on the forthcoming tour but on future tours. The man is a run machine.

    Reading the denigrating comments on this website - a common feature - you'd think India has never toured SA before. Pls. do take a look at India's last tour to SA, by all accounts their major failure was the inability to close out the 3rd and final Test at Cape Town and take the whole series.

    Now, that doesn't guarantee a repeat performance this time. One only has to think of India's last tour to Eng (0-4) which followed a successful Test series win on their previous tour in 2007. Still, this is as good, if not a better side than the one which toured SA last time around.

    India also has access to the vast experience of Duncan Fletcher, this is where Fletch will really come into his own. Good luck to India, should be a good series.

  • on November 30, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    This guy has immense amount of talent in him i would count just as good as kohli, but he needs to he given oppurtunities in odi's. He averages 65 in the test formatt and is kept out of the team in the odi's. Selectors have to do better than this give him a try.

  • Bladerunners on November 30, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    South african pitch is not only bouncy and quick but also there is lots of movement on offer for the quicks.spinners will dont want to bowl single ball there.every team strugles against sa in sa

  • Nampally on November 30, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    India will depend heavily on Pujara to be the sheet anchor of the Indian batting in SA. On his success ride the Indian batting & the match results. Although Dhawan, Kohli & Rohit Sharma are the other 3 leading batsmen, it is crucial for Pujara to hold one end up. During the past 2 years, he averaged 65 in the Tests & got 3 triple centuries in Ranji + one triple century against WI A + host of centuries in the Ranji as well. Pujara has immense patience, discipline & sound defence to be one of the best equipped Indian batsmen to counter the SA pace attack. If Vijay & Dhawan give India a good start of at least 50 runs, it also gives Pujara a chance to be little relaxed. It is amazing that India has kept Pujara out of ODI's - if one considers how much is riding on Pujara's success. It would have given him the chance to get little more practice on the bouncy pitches before the Tests. This leaves Pujara to make the best of Ranji to get his last practice.Good Luck to pujara in SA Test series!

  • Naresh28 on November 30, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    INDIAS perfect number 3. He will be the backbone of the new look TEST team and has filled part of the void left by our stalwarts. Other players who need a look in include Mukund, Sampson, Aparajith, Zol on the batting front. On the bowling front guys like Pandey, Rishi Dhawan, Shukla, Jalaj Saxena need to be looked ar.

  • on November 30, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Is this a joke? There is a difference between rubber pitches in Saurashtra and seaming wickets in Durban.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on November 30, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Is this a joke? There is a difference between rubber pitches in Saurashtra and seaming wickets in Durban.

  • Naresh28 on November 30, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    INDIAS perfect number 3. He will be the backbone of the new look TEST team and has filled part of the void left by our stalwarts. Other players who need a look in include Mukund, Sampson, Aparajith, Zol on the batting front. On the bowling front guys like Pandey, Rishi Dhawan, Shukla, Jalaj Saxena need to be looked ar.

  • Nampally on November 30, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    India will depend heavily on Pujara to be the sheet anchor of the Indian batting in SA. On his success ride the Indian batting & the match results. Although Dhawan, Kohli & Rohit Sharma are the other 3 leading batsmen, it is crucial for Pujara to hold one end up. During the past 2 years, he averaged 65 in the Tests & got 3 triple centuries in Ranji + one triple century against WI A + host of centuries in the Ranji as well. Pujara has immense patience, discipline & sound defence to be one of the best equipped Indian batsmen to counter the SA pace attack. If Vijay & Dhawan give India a good start of at least 50 runs, it also gives Pujara a chance to be little relaxed. It is amazing that India has kept Pujara out of ODI's - if one considers how much is riding on Pujara's success. It would have given him the chance to get little more practice on the bouncy pitches before the Tests. This leaves Pujara to make the best of Ranji to get his last practice.Good Luck to pujara in SA Test series!

  • Bladerunners on November 30, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    South african pitch is not only bouncy and quick but also there is lots of movement on offer for the quicks.spinners will dont want to bowl single ball there.every team strugles against sa in sa

  • on November 30, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    This guy has immense amount of talent in him i would count just as good as kohli, but he needs to he given oppurtunities in odi's. He averages 65 in the test formatt and is kept out of the team in the odi's. Selectors have to do better than this give him a try.

  • InsideHedge on November 30, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    The joke will be on you lot when Pujara makes lots of runs in SA, not only on the forthcoming tour but on future tours. The man is a run machine.

    Reading the denigrating comments on this website - a common feature - you'd think India has never toured SA before. Pls. do take a look at India's last tour to SA, by all accounts their major failure was the inability to close out the 3rd and final Test at Cape Town and take the whole series.

    Now, that doesn't guarantee a repeat performance this time. One only has to think of India's last tour to Eng (0-4) which followed a successful Test series win on their previous tour in 2007. Still, this is as good, if not a better side than the one which toured SA last time around.

    India also has access to the vast experience of Duncan Fletcher, this is where Fletch will really come into his own. Good luck to India, should be a good series.

  • on November 30, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    He deserves to big given a good chance in ODIs too. He will be a great asset for Indian team overseas at Number 3.

  • on November 30, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    Vishwanath Balachandran - Kindly do check what was the result of the last match played at durban between SA and India

    BTW, He is not playing this match in Saurashtra. He's Playing in TN.

  • on November 30, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    honestly speaking you would expect at least the trio of pujara kohli and rohit to average above 45 in the SA tests.... they have had the experience of playing against the current SA pacers like steyn morkel et al in the IPL and CLT20 when these were held in SA... so no excuses they need to perform given that they are at their respective peaks.... I do hope that we get decent starts if not overwhelming ones... dhawan enjoys bouncy tracks and should do a good job but the same cannot be said about vijay who is yet to show some real substance against quality attacks... also the lower middle order is fragile with just dhoni acting as the hinge...jadeja and ashwin will need to play some crucial roles with the bat to mould India s fortunes...hope rahane gets at least one test... bowling looks okay and with zaheer shami and bhuvi we should be able to get 20 wickets... so go for the kill India!

  • on November 30, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    to all those who say SA is only for fast bowlers... ajmal Man of the series -_-