India batter Cheteshwar Pujara said day three of the second Test against South Africa at the Wanderers was one of those days where everything he planned was panning out exactly the same way.
He added that his partnership of 111 runs with Ajinkya Rahane was crucial for the team to get some runs on board. Pujara was the second top-run scorer in India’s second innings score of 266, which helped set a target of 240 for South Africa.
“Looking at the pitch, it has variable bounce and it’s not easy. Whenever you get a loose ball, you want to make sure that you put it away because you never know when you will get an unplayable ball. So, yes, it was part of my gameplan that if I get a loose ball, I will go to try and convert it. But I didn’t do anything extra. I think I have been batting well,” said Pujara in the virtual press conference.
“It was one of those days where everything was going as per my plan. Whenever I was getting a loose ball, I was just trying to convert it. Overall, really happy with the way things went. I think the partnership with Ajinkya was very crucial because we were at a stage where we wanted some runs on the board. I feel it’s just not about my score, it’s about the team’s total in the end. That partnership with Ajinkya was really crucial for us today,” added Pujara.
Pujara further said they always take criticism from everyone, including from legendary batter Sunil Gavaskar, in a sporting way. “We are very confident. Also, there is a lot of backing from the team management. We have been learning from Sunny bhai. He has always, whenever I have spoken to him, been supportive. There are times when if you are going through bad form, there will be questions. No doubt about that.”
At the same time, he insisted that he and Rahane, who were in a lean patch, are working hard on their respective games. “But we are confident players, myself and Ajinkya. We know we are working hard on our game. There is a saying ‘the form is temporary, class is permanent’. I feel that it applies here and if we keep working on our game, we have done well for the Indian team in the past. The management has shown a lot of faith in us. That will pay off for sure. It is already paid. But I feel that as we keep playing more as batsmen back in form, you keep scoring runs and it keeps going up and up.”
The 33-year-old also said the team management has been supporting them through the lean phase and stated the importance of sticking to one’s processes and work ethics. “Well, the team management has always been supportive. I would say, it’s just the outside noise. The coaching staff and the captain have been behind all the players. We have been working hard. There have been times where you don’t get too many runs.”
“But the important thing as a cricketer is about following the right routine, having good work ethics and keep working on your game because there have been times when you don’t get the runs but if you follow the right processes, you get runs on the board. So, this is what has happened today. I am sure that this form will continue and will get big scores in the game as well.”
Pujara signed off by expressing confidence of sealing a victory on day four despite not getting many wickets on day three. “I think it’s always important to get some runs on the board as a batsman, especially when you are playing on some challenging pitches. It is never easy to score big runs. Whenever you have some runs on the board, it always helps.”
“Even if you look at this game, it’s been a challenging pitch and we have runs on the board. So, we are very well-balanced in this game. Although we haven’t picked up too many wickets today, we are very confident that the pitch will deteriorate tomorrow and will have our chances.”