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

We proved we weren't scared - Pujara


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

  • Satwant 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

  • Dummy4 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?

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

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

  • Manesh 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.

  • Logan 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

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2013, 7:00 GMT

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

  • Naresh 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.

  • Dummy4 on December 22, 2013, 6:01 GMT

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

  • Dummy4 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.

  • No featured comments at the moment.