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Australia vs India, 2020: I just have to bat in the manner I know to bat, says Cheteshwar Pujara

India cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara opened up on his style of batting in the purest format and shut his critics stating that he needs to bat in the manner he knows. The 32-year-old was under heavy criticism for his ultra-slow approach in the first innings of the SCG Test where he struck at 28.41 comprising 5 boundaries.

A match savior during Border-Gavaskar 2018-19, Pujara hasn’t been able to emulate his past tour’s numbers in the ongoing 4-match series that is currently tied at 1-1. Averaging 22.50 across 5 innings, Pujara has aggregated merely 113 runs with two fifty-plus totals at a strike rate of 27.03. In the first innings, Pujara clocked a half-century in 174 deliveries, his slowest fifty in the longest format, and was dismissed a few moments later off a Pat Cummins’ delivery that gloved back to wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Being one of the most senior members in the team and a key figure in the Indian batting order, Pujara is yet to find form in the series. This was the fourth time in the Border-Gavaskar 2020-21 that the right-hander has fallen prey to Pat Cummins, against whom he has garnered merely 19 runs under his belt.

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Talking about his match-up against Cummins, Pujara stated that the No 1 ranked Australian pacer bowled few unplayable deliveries and the one that got him out was the ‘best ball of the series’. The Rajkot-born further added that he wouldn’t change his approach towards batting in red-ball cricket.

“We are trying our best, but sometimes Pat Cummins has a better idea, sometimes he bowled some of the unplayable deliveries, for example, the ball which I got, if there was any other batter, I felt that was the best ball of this series, sometimes you have to accept it, we are trying our best as a batting unit. It is not just about him, it is important to bat well as a unit,” Cheteshwar Pujara said in a virtual conference on the conclusion of Day 3.

” I have got out against him four times but some of them were really good balls. We need to respect that, overall I am confident about my batting, I would rather focus on the things I need to as a batsman rather than put too much pressure on him getting me out. The way I was batting today, I was really confident. The way I got out today, I have to accept that. I could not have done anything better,” said Pujara.

Also Read: 3 Legendary Test bowlers who failed with their performance in India

He added, “I would rather focus on the things I need to do as a batsman. I just have to bat in the manner I know to bat, even as a batting unit, you need to build partnerships and bat well as a unit.

India were eventually bundled out in the first innings for 244, giving a 94-run lead to the hosts.

Cheteshwar Pujara is as guilty as anyone for slack, lacklustre batting: Ricky Ponting

Former Australian skipper and current head coach of the IPL franchise Delhi Capitals (DC), Ricky Ponting, called Pujara’s batting effort as lacklustre. The batting legend further mentioned that Pujara’s approach kept the Aussies in the game in spite of his fifty in the innings.

“I think (Pujara) has got to be better than that. He is 16 off his first 100 balls with no boundaries. That is – and I don’t care who you are – if you are at the other end and someone is batting like that, so much more pressure comes back on you because you know you have to be the one that is going to keep the scoreboard ticking over and trying to get some momentum going your way,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.

Ponting, a veteran of 168 Tests and 13,378 runs, reckons that Pujara should have backed himself to get a mammoth score on board if he had decided to bat that longer.

“If you are going to play that way and bat that long, he has got to back himself to make sure he gest 100, 150 at least. To bat like he did today, finally get a great ball from (Pat) Cummins, although he got 50, he just had not hurt the Australians at all.

Also Read: AUS vs IND, 3rd Test, Day 3 Report: India on the backfoot as Australia extend lead

In fact, batting like he (Pujara) did actually kept Australia in the game. Although Pujara got the 50 that he got, he is as guilty as anyone for slack, lacklustre batting.

Not just Pujara, India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane could score just 22 runs from 70 deliveries. In the middle-order, Hanumi Vihari scored was run-out on 4 runs, while wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant (36) and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (28*) chipped in with some runs.

The former cricketing great then pointed out how Pujara’s slow rate of scoring and lack of shot selections allowed the Australian bowlers to dominate the contest.

“We saw it even against Lyon in the back half of his innings today, he started using his feet and hitting the ball through the field. He didn’t do that for his first 120-130 balls.

You can’t tell me it takes you that long to get in and get settled and work out what the wicket’s playing like or what the bowlers are bowling like,” Ponting said.

Pujara’s heroics with the willow had been a major contributor to India’s 2-1 win in Australia during the tour in 2018-19. He bagged two ‘Man of the Match’ awards and was adjudged as the ‘Player of the Series’, scoring 521 runs in 4 matches, averaging 74.42, including 3 hundreds and a fifty. Not to forget, he scored at a strike rate of 41.42.

Also Read: 4 Legendary Test batsmen who failed to deliver their potential in India

Pointing drew comparisons of how the Indian No 3 batter played in his previous tour and that his striking ability has lowered significantly in the concurrent series.

“He (Pujara) has got no cross-batted shots at all, he has got no pull shot, the Aussies are not feeding him on the cut shot. He has got to find a way to score quicker than that because that is not going to win his team any games. I know people will say ‘he did the same thing out here last time’ but he didn’t,” he added.

“He batted for a long period of time but he scored a lot quicker than what he scored today,” Ponting concluded.

At the end of Day 3, Australia’s scorecard reads 103/2 with a lead of 197 runs. Marnus Labuschagne (47*) and Steve Smith (29*) have so far forged a 68-run partnership in the second innings. The hosts lost their openers – David Warner (13) and debutant Will Pucovski (10) early on in the innings to Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Siraj respectively.

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V Shashankhttps://www.mpl.live/
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar

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