Cheteshwar Pujara: I play to score runs, not to silence anyone

Updated: Dec 28, 2018, 09:47 IST | R Kaushik | Melbourne

With Cheteshwar Pujara getting his second century in three Tests v Aus for the first time in an overseas series, the India No. 3 batsman says he doesn't play international cricket...

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara is greeted by fans as he walks out to bat during Day Two of the third Test against Australia in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara is greeted by fans as he walks out to bat during Day Two of the third Test against Australia in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Until the start of this year, Cheteshwar Pujara had made just four overseas hundreds, two of them in Sri Lanka, in 21 Tests. He had never made more than one century in a series away from home. Whispers about him being a hero at home alone were beginning to gain ground, but the Saurashtra batsman didn't speak a word in anger.

Instead, over the last 12 months, he has allowed his bat to do the talking for him. In 10 Tests in South Africa, England and Australia in 2018, he has notched up three tons, and aggregated 706 runs at 39.22. Additionally, he also has three half-centuries overseas, each of them coming in a winning cause [Johannesburg, Nottingham and Adelaide].

Yesterday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Pujara, 30, drew abreast of VVS Laxman on 17 tons with a typically pugnacious 106, the bedrock of India's 443 for seven declared in the third Test against Australia. However, characteristically, there was no gloating or chest-thumping. Pujara had a job to do, he had done it. That was more than enough for him. "When I play international cricket, I don't need to silence anyone," he said, his disarming smile taking whatever edge those words might have carried, as he addressed the issue of his hitherto middling away numbers.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara

"I just need to keep scoring runs and that is what I love to do. I don't want to get into all such things. My job is to score runs, and I will keep scoring runs, whether it is home or away. Sometimes, you do get criticised and you just have to accept it. But if you keep scoring runs and if India keeps winning, ultimately everybody is happy. It is always good to score runs away from home," he added.

Boxing Day Test: Pujara's ton puts India on top at Stumps on Day 2

"With the way this series is placed, this is an important knock. At the start of the series, the first hundred [in Adelaide] was really special because it helped us win the match. I hope with the amount of runs we have, we will be able to win this one as well. When you score a hundred in a winning cause, it makes it really special.

"And talking about this year, the way things have gone, I am really pleased with that. I just want to carry on with this form. We don't have any Test matches after this series, but whenever we start playing again next year, I just want to carry on with it."

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