Mohali: Indian middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has said his gritty knock of 77 runs against South Africa in the second innings of the first Test is right up there as one of his top satisfying knocks. India won the match by 108 runs to lead the four-Test series 1-0.
Cheteshwar Pujara. Pic/ AFP
"This one is up there. The conditions were difficult and the team needed a good total. We have played cricket on some challenging wickets and this was one of those. It was an innings of 77 but it was crucial in the context of the match," he said. "Ultimately we were able to put on a decent total which we could defend," Pujara was quoted as saying by bcci.tv.
In the match Pujara and Murali Vijay together scored 230 runs, while the other 36 knocks managed only 416. "The wicket was challenging but it wasn't that bad if you applied yourself as a batsman. Once you were set, the bowlers were struggling to get wickets. It was all about making a partnership."
"That's what Vijay and I spoke about when I went in to bat (in the second innings). It helped that we had a partnership in the first innings as well. If two batsmen were set and solid, it was not easy for the bowlers to get wickets," he said.
The 27-year-old batted positively and did not get into a shell, while others tried blocking their way out of trouble but failed. "That was my plan (to play positively). Every time I got a loose ball, I wanted to make sure I got a boundary. If not a boundary, I at least tried to rotate the strike. Once I was set, I had my rhythm and I knew I could play shots on this wicket," he said.
Talking about his 63-run and 86-run with Murali Vijay, Pujara said: "We were communicating very well on how the bowlers were bowling and what line they were likely to bowl. Most importantly, I thought we both defended well and looked solid at the crease."
"As a fielding unit they had to think really hard as to how to get us out. Once we were in, we were rotating the strike, punishing the loose balls and were solid in defence. All the things went perfectly for us." The middle-order willower also added that he quite liking the challenge of fielding close in.
"It is challenging because you expect the ball to come at you all the time and you always have to be ready to take the chance when it comes. Sometimes it is difficult because you have to concentrate all the time, but when you take a catch, you feel happy about it," he said.