South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 4th day December 21, 2013

We proved we weren't scared - Pujara

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Feel responsibility to score big when set - Pujara

India's batsmen have not only surpassed expectations, they have flown in the face of suggestions that they might be scarred and scared after the battering in the ODIs. Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored his first overseas century to almost bat South Africa out of the Johannesburg Test, feels there is work is yet to be done, though.

"I think we have," Pujara said, when asked if India had answered the concerns around being scarred and sacred. "But I think it is still early and we need to do a lot. But it is a very good start for us considering the position we are in. So we just have to take confidence from it, and look to gain from whatever we have achieved in this match and carry forward from this."

That is typical Pujara, though. Always level-headed, always hungry for more runs in an understated way. Sixteen of his 25 first-class hundreds have been scores of 150 or more. "I always like to score big runs, and being a top-order batsman it's my responsibility," Pujara said. "When I score a hundred and I'm set, I should try and play longer and achieve big total for the team. So, whenever I am set I feel that for the team's purpose as well as my own achievement I should try to bat as long as possible."

Pujara was extremely cautious at the start of his innings, but once he got used to the conditions and the bowlers, he cut loose. "I was initially trying to look through the conditions as the ball was new and was doing a bit," he said. "I was being patient, and was waiting for the opportunity to accelerate. I knew the start was important, and I was batting well even in the first innings. So it was important to see through the new ball and then play my shots."

Pujara's celebration on reaching the hundred was different to his usual peaceful ones- a little more pumped up. This was his first century away from home. "There was a lot of talk about this tour, especially the Indian batsmen not doing well overseas," Pujara said, agreeing that this ton was extra special. "But I think everybody took the responsibility and did it as a unit. It was an important innings for me as well because I wanted to score runs in South Africa, considering the conditions here are a little difficult."

India ended the fourth day needing eight wickets, but South Africa are not a team to be written off. They are capable of batting a day out, or even scoring 320 runs. Pujara, though, was quietly confident about India's position because of the bounce on offer. "I think the wicket has variable bounce, and we have seen the cracks have been opening up," he said. "We are expecting that we will get more movement tomorrow from the ball that will hit the crack. Even while I was batting in the morning, I felt that the odd ball was going up and down.

"I think we are very happy with the two wickets we have got, and the conditions will be a little more difficult tomorrow. We have got enough runs on the board, and I think it will not be an issue for us. It's important for us to get a few wickets in the first session so that we can capitalise later on."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • yuvi_gladiator on December 22, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    @NixNixon that and no Allan Donald and Ntini as well. feel free to add any other names i might have forgotten. india has not proven anything and neither do they need to. its hard to play good fast bowling on a green wicket for any team including SA. on the other hand its an art to play spin bowling on turning tracks

  • on December 22, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    @NixNixon - if India didn't prove anything that means you agree that without morkel.... Steyn and Philander are mediocre bowlers? Yeah right?

  • NixNixon on December 22, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Sorry to say but with morkel being injured india did not prove anything.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 22, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Here comes the next Rahul Dravid. When seniors like Sachin, Dravid, Laxman retired, everyone writeoff India in tests. But we had full confidence in our young lads and they keep their promises. Well done Pujara and Kohli.

  • lancia71 on December 22, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Seems these Indian batters are far superior to the rest of the world. I know few of my countrymen from sri lanka will have their say. But fact remains none of the teams can boast of a Kholi or Rohit in their line ups. Kholi might never take the records away from Tendulkar but he looks a more impact player than the little master.

  • Pavinasen on December 22, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    All this pep talk about SA having a chance of winning / drawing the match will backfire,simply this has been drilled into the heads of the players by the coach & assistant.Now there is added pressure on the remaining 8 to live up to this expectations. We saw how the surface is playing,even a set batsmen cannot score freely and is never in due to the variable bounce,hence the fall of wickets in clusters.All indian bowlers will come into play on the 5th day.good luck to SA if they survive half the day

  • on December 22, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    He is just 25 n such maturity!!! The Indian Batting is truly in good hands..

  • Naresh28 on December 22, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    This guy has played for a U19 ODI WC team. He can play the ODI game. Just needs to be given a chance.

  • on December 22, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    @Nadeem . In the same way Pakistan always produce great bowlers. They are equally awesome.

  • on December 22, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Down to earth comment from Pujara. He does not get carried away easily. One good thing to see from tis team is they don't fear about fast bowling and bouncers. In fact, they hook quite easily. If india wins the match then it will be huge moral booster for young India team.

  • yuvi_gladiator on December 22, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    @NixNixon that and no Allan Donald and Ntini as well. feel free to add any other names i might have forgotten. india has not proven anything and neither do they need to. its hard to play good fast bowling on a green wicket for any team including SA. on the other hand its an art to play spin bowling on turning tracks

  • on December 22, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    @NixNixon - if India didn't prove anything that means you agree that without morkel.... Steyn and Philander are mediocre bowlers? Yeah right?

  • NixNixon on December 22, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Sorry to say but with morkel being injured india did not prove anything.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 22, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Here comes the next Rahul Dravid. When seniors like Sachin, Dravid, Laxman retired, everyone writeoff India in tests. But we had full confidence in our young lads and they keep their promises. Well done Pujara and Kohli.

  • lancia71 on December 22, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Seems these Indian batters are far superior to the rest of the world. I know few of my countrymen from sri lanka will have their say. But fact remains none of the teams can boast of a Kholi or Rohit in their line ups. Kholi might never take the records away from Tendulkar but he looks a more impact player than the little master.

  • Pavinasen on December 22, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    All this pep talk about SA having a chance of winning / drawing the match will backfire,simply this has been drilled into the heads of the players by the coach & assistant.Now there is added pressure on the remaining 8 to live up to this expectations. We saw how the surface is playing,even a set batsmen cannot score freely and is never in due to the variable bounce,hence the fall of wickets in clusters.All indian bowlers will come into play on the 5th day.good luck to SA if they survive half the day

  • on December 22, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    He is just 25 n such maturity!!! The Indian Batting is truly in good hands..

  • Naresh28 on December 22, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    This guy has played for a U19 ODI WC team. He can play the ODI game. Just needs to be given a chance.

  • on December 22, 2013, 6:01 GMT

    @Nadeem . In the same way Pakistan always produce great bowlers. They are equally awesome.

  • on December 22, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Down to earth comment from Pujara. He does not get carried away easily. One good thing to see from tis team is they don't fear about fast bowling and bouncers. In fact, they hook quite easily. If india wins the match then it will be huge moral booster for young India team.

  • sweetspot on December 22, 2013, 5:45 GMT

    Totally expected from Mr. Pujara - the thorough professional. I really don't think he should be playing in the ODIs unless his job is to open in case one of the other two hits bad form. His knees are delicate and he's not exactly the fastest between wickets. Every other Indian ODI player will push him to run and turn hard. These days, ODIs are hard fought and scores of 350+ are being defended with difficulty, which puts the onus on lightning fielders and not having to shield anybody. India has explosive power in its batting, and its ODI fielding side is quite superb. No need to risk Pujara just to get some needless feeling of security. If he were to play in any other spot, he shouldn't shunt Kohli out of that #3. Just leave Kohli alone there.

  • on December 22, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    It is really nice start for Indian Batters.. they have exceeded expectations in coming matches / series. Hoping this is just a start and glimpse of whats coming in Indian cricket.

    @Nadeem Sharifuddin: Thanks Man... but what about bowlers.. you guys have gift of naturally talented bowlers :) but yes i still miss Wasim Akram in cricketing world

  • the_blue_android on December 22, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Time to discard Raina and Yuvi from the ODI team. Such a high quality player cannot be warming benches.

  • on December 22, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    In test matches pujara strike rate is better than virat kohli strike rate so obviously if he play ODI he will score quickly. common if a batsman can score 60 above strike rate while playing test matches in South africa than he is a brilliant ODI player as well. Pujara is best batsman india have. Now we can certainly say that the 5 pillars of indian batting for future is PUJARA VIRAT ROHIT SHIKAR JADEJA

  • on December 22, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    We have to have him in ODI squad for 2015 WC, because we'll need a stable batsman in the middle order. Yuvi and Raina both are not good at playing bounce and pace well, and Pujara will anchor the inning and other stroke players can play around him. We can also use him to open to see off the new ball and then let the stroke makers attack later on.

  • on December 22, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    @Nadeem_Sharifuddin what you feel about the continuous supply of class bats from India, we feel the same about your pipeline of truly fast bowlers.. Junaid, Asif, Aamir, Akhtar, Waqar, Akram, Imran, Sarfraz.. another reason we should have not split.. with Indian dimag, and Pakistan "dil aur jigar".. .... !

  • on December 22, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    BCCI's got to include hime in the ODI there is no way such a quality player can be left out the ease with which he played the african top bowlers was amazing. There is no way they can leave him out. Two bad odi games does not decide a person's odi career.

  • Vnott on December 22, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    Pujara is a must in the one day side too. It is narrow thinking which kept him out in the first place. If you look at how he plays, he does get his runs consistently but overall reasonable clip as well. In many ways todays 50 day over needs good temperament and skills similar to test matches. He is ideally suited at no:3 in ODI too. It is interesting that all 3 results as we go on the final day. Would be absolutely terrific if India can pull over the while.

  • on December 22, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    It is actually one session of one innings that has seemingly taken the game away from India.. Pujara actually did What Sehwag used to do for us when he was iin his pomp.. I am going to put my foot in and say that this guy can score a lot more than Dravid ever did basically because this guy scores quicker and has a really tight technique as compared with Sehwag..

  • kums_crick_fan on December 22, 2013, 2:27 GMT

    Well done Pujara,Virat.... team INDIA.... hope India will get the wickets early and hope for the best.

  • the_blue_android on December 22, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    But Pujara, that doesn't count man, according to Vernon Philander. so you're still just a flat track bully. this time flat track happens to be in Jo'berg.

  • on December 22, 2013, 1:54 GMT

    The Off side play was impeccable especially the power packed square and cover drives but I would love CHE PUJARA to play some more behind the stumps - shots like the leg glance and the cuts through the gully and point region. Time CHE got into the ODI squad as well!!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 22, 2013, 1:49 GMT

    Cheteshwar Pujara, you are the real deal. The best test batsman in the world by a distance. What a player and what articulation and to the point! Take a bow Dravid v2.0!

  • gop_cricket on December 22, 2013, 1:36 GMT

    More similar thinking of this guy to Rahul and Sachin makes him look a very good character. He has very good technique and temperament that suite to test cricket. He promises a very good career ahead with his ever learning attitude. Good luck to this young man to carry India's batting order.

  • on December 22, 2013, 0:52 GMT

    great batsman in the making. i think india some how find a machine in past 20 years to create great batsmen every 5 years. I am Pakistani and getting jealous by Indian current batsmen because we have boring Misbah and you guys have unbelievable talented great batsmen from top to bottom.

  • on December 22, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    "WALK THE TALK" is a rarity in the modern sports. In such a world. it is so nice to see a bright young talented boy doing less of 'Talking" and more of "Walking"is not . Even when he does that, he is not satiated and wants to walk more. That is the true spirit of solid performers!

    In every team, let us see a few who are ready to light the fire of competitiveness even in the 'talk zone; but it is extremely pleasant to see young ones who can douse the unwanted fires and deliver! And, what they deliver will talk for them!

  • sri1ram on December 22, 2013, 0:29 GMT

    God damn,in spite of all the emotional ODI scars, if Indian batsmen play like this.. I wonder to think about how they would play without those ;-)

  • Nampally on December 22, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    The so called "Scarred & scared their batsmen' was the ploy used by Steyn to show his authority & thought that he is the best pace bowler in the world! But he got an emphatic rebuttal & response from the Indian batsmen- particularly from Kohli & Pujara. The response was by scoring a ton of runs. While Indian batsmen walked the talk, Steyn was left high & dry with just one wkt. in 2 innings for over 150 runs- his worst career figures in any Test match!. I am sure Steyn is regretting for uttering such empty words & will be more humble next time. Johnson is much faster than Steyn & was treated with scant respect in India in the ODI's. Clearly Steyn's Gamesmanship back fired! As for the state of the match, it is still wide open with odds slightly favouring India. But India with just 4 bowlers have to be careful of injuries. Can these bowlers rise to the occasion & reproduce their first innings performance remains to be seen. SA have Peterson, Kallis, AB, JP who cannot be written off!

  • Longmemory on December 21, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    "But I think it is still early and we need to do a lot. But it is a very good start for us considering the position we are in. So we just have to take confidence from it, and look to gain from whatever we have achieved in this match and carry forward from this." That's a quote from Pujara. Nice and modest - my fear is that its a bit too modest. There's a test match to be won and 8 wickets to be taken. This one is not over by any means, and yet there's a sense that India has already accomplished what it set out to do. If the aim was to prove that we are no pushovers, well, ok that has been done. But if the aim was to win the test and hopefully the series, there is still work to be done.

  • DevendraSudama on December 21, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Really enjoyed Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara's innings. To play so well against a South African attack at their home is a great achievement. Good luck to the bowlers on the final day!! I truly believe we can win the game. The first session is very crucial. All the best to India

  • roook on December 21, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    A master class shown from Pujara he never wastes his slow start. He has a remarkable patience never seen before

  • dev_gov on December 21, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    Excellent batting Pujara and Virat, you guys will also score centuries in Durban. You guys have outplayed one of the best bowling attack in the world.

  • volmitius on December 21, 2013, 20:19 GMT

    10 years back we couldnt have imagined the Indian bating without the fab four.. N look, the last of them has just retired n the mantle is already looking to be in safe hands. Pujara-execptional cricketer..hungry for big scores, this guy has an apeptite dat god knows how many bowler will go into retirement before it ceases.. Kohli-another young gun already has 21 international tons in his name. Jst took sachin's spot and see how he has tormented the SA attack. The 3&4 of India are rock solid

  • dev_gov on December 21, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    Well done India, I am sure there will be very few critics about the Indian batsmen for the second test in Durban.

  • on December 21, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    I so love this guy. Always level headed and lets his performance do all the talking. Keep it up Pujara.

  • on December 21, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    Steyn has got his answers about who is scared of who. 1 /165 in game for him.

  • on December 21, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    He has made a huge statement to the ODI selectors to think about him to be included in the country's ODI team. How can you overlook him?

  • Ssamal on December 21, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Well done Pujara,Virat.It's time for our bowlers to bowl well in the final day.All the best

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  • Ssamal on December 21, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    Well done Pujara,Virat.It's time for our bowlers to bowl well in the final day.All the best

  • on December 21, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    He has made a huge statement to the ODI selectors to think about him to be included in the country's ODI team. How can you overlook him?

  • on December 21, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    Steyn has got his answers about who is scared of who. 1 /165 in game for him.

  • on December 21, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    I so love this guy. Always level headed and lets his performance do all the talking. Keep it up Pujara.

  • dev_gov on December 21, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    Well done India, I am sure there will be very few critics about the Indian batsmen for the second test in Durban.

  • volmitius on December 21, 2013, 20:19 GMT

    10 years back we couldnt have imagined the Indian bating without the fab four.. N look, the last of them has just retired n the mantle is already looking to be in safe hands. Pujara-execptional cricketer..hungry for big scores, this guy has an apeptite dat god knows how many bowler will go into retirement before it ceases.. Kohli-another young gun already has 21 international tons in his name. Jst took sachin's spot and see how he has tormented the SA attack. The 3&4 of India are rock solid

  • dev_gov on December 21, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    Excellent batting Pujara and Virat, you guys will also score centuries in Durban. You guys have outplayed one of the best bowling attack in the world.

  • roook on December 21, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    A master class shown from Pujara he never wastes his slow start. He has a remarkable patience never seen before

  • DevendraSudama on December 21, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Really enjoyed Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara's innings. To play so well against a South African attack at their home is a great achievement. Good luck to the bowlers on the final day!! I truly believe we can win the game. The first session is very crucial. All the best to India

  • Longmemory on December 21, 2013, 23:41 GMT

    "But I think it is still early and we need to do a lot. But it is a very good start for us considering the position we are in. So we just have to take confidence from it, and look to gain from whatever we have achieved in this match and carry forward from this." That's a quote from Pujara. Nice and modest - my fear is that its a bit too modest. There's a test match to be won and 8 wickets to be taken. This one is not over by any means, and yet there's a sense that India has already accomplished what it set out to do. If the aim was to prove that we are no pushovers, well, ok that has been done. But if the aim was to win the test and hopefully the series, there is still work to be done.