After playing "one of my top five innings" in Test cricket, Cheteshwar Pujara feels he has taken India to a decent total mainly because the pitch in Adelaide is difficult to bat on. It is one of those that doesn't look difficult on television because there isn't exaggerated movement, but it was two-paced, which made stroke-making difficult.
"I would say it is a decent total because there is enough turn," Pujara said of India's 250 for 9. "Ashwin will also come into play. Sometimes when you are seeing it on TV, it doesn't look like it is doing a lot but when I batted in the first and second sessions, I felt it wasn't easy to bat on. I will share my experience of what line and length to bowl on this pitch with our fast bowlers.
"It is the grass. The odd ball is skidding on, and the odd ball is holding a bit more from the grass. I would say it is kind of a two-paced pitch, not easy to bat on."
Having made 123 off 246 balls, Pujara said it took him two sessions to figure out what shots he can play on such a surface. That is perhaps why he would have liked a little more application from the other batsmen. "To be honest, we should have batted better but they also bowled well in the first two sessions and I knew that I had to stay patient and wait for the loose balls," Pujara said. "They bowled in the right areas. I also felt that our top order should have batted better, but they will learn from the mistakes and put up a better show in the second innings."
The batsmen were there to show their gratitude, though. "It is one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five," Pujara said. "The way the team-mates appreciated it, they were saying it was one of the best."
Pujara had to struggle with a hamstring niggle as he accelerated with the tail for company, but it was a case of mind over matter in the end. "It was tough but I was set and I knew I could play my shots, especially when we lost the seventh wicket," Pujara said. "Myself and Ash were having a good partnership but once we lost Ash, I thought I had to accelerate. I knew what shots I could play on that wicket because I had batted for two sessions, and I think it was tough it was considering the weather. It was quite hot, we are used to it in India but still..."
The hamstring will be assessed overnight. "My leg got stuck into the pitch, and when I was trying to go for the second run, I had a little bit of a pull in my hamstring but I am going to consult the physio now," Pujara said. "Hopefully it is not too bad."
He was run out off the last ball of the day and though it has been a problem in Pujara's career, you can't blame him this time. He had to take the risk in order to manipulate the strike, he had a dodgy hamstring, and he was also undone by a sensational piece of fielding from Pat Cummings. Still, if India's bowlers and batsmen can follow Pujara's lead on the coming days, he might have played one of the most significant knocks for India.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo