IND vs SA: We are here to win this series, says Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara, who is on his third visit to SA, reckons visitors have a special kind of experience to dominate overseas contests and thus become one of the best touring outfits the country has ever had
India's Cheteshwar Pujara drives against Sri Lanka in the Kolkata Test last November. Pic/AFP
Cheteshwar Pujara's press conferences are much like his batting — strong, solid, consistent and dependable, but rarely exciting. While he is a vital cog in India's batting line-up, Pujara is the kind of player who prefers to let his bat and time at the crease do the talking. At Newlands, a venue that Pujara loves, he was much the same yesterday, understated and watchful. "It is one of the most scenic grounds after Dharamsala. I have always enjoyed playing in South Africa. Somehow, I like playing on such wickets," said Pujara, who is on his third tour of the country.
"Personally, there's always a challenge and I feel if you play in any challenging situation, you grow as a cricketer, you get matured. When you succeed in such conditions you feel much better."
As one of the more travelled cricketers in this team, Pujara has enough to share with his mates about what to do to succeed in these conditions. "I think experience is most important. Once you play in these conditions you know what to expect from the pitch, what to expect from the opposition," said Pujara. "Once you have scored some runs in these conditions, once you have spent some time on such pitches, you know what to do as a batsman and even as a team."
Pujara also explained that this Indian team had begun preparing for the South Africa series even as they were playing Sri Lanka at home. "There was some movement, there was some bounce in the Kolkata pitch. Obviously, it might be different from what we get here. But at the same time we tried replicating what we could," said Pujara. "Even in other matches, during net practice we had this on our mind that we will be touring South Africa and we were trying to practice accordingly."
As for not playing practice matches and focussing instead on training sessions and open nets, Pujara backed up his captain in saying the team was as well prepared.
'It's been fantastic'
"It has been fantastic. Whatever net sessions we have had here, the team is very confident. We had about three net sessions and on a couple of days, we had two net sessions," said Pujara. "We are very confident and even during the Sri Lanka series we spoke about how we want to go about this series. We are here to win this series."
Not just win this series, but perhaps establish themselves as one of the best Indian teams of all time? "Yes, we have that opportunity. We have done well in Sri Lanka and wherever we have played. This time we should do well," said Pujara. "We have no excuse because we have that experience and we have the team that can dominate overseas. If we do well, this will be one of the best teams India has ever had."