Cheteshwar Pujara has a calm head accompanied by nerves of steel. He doesn’t crumble under pressure, not when facing hostile fast bowlers in difficult conditions, certainly not when tackling questions about his recent struggles with the bat, the criticism from various quarters and the constant reminders about his place in the Indian side being in doubt. Pujara’s qualities both on and off the field were on full display on Wednesday. The India No.3 hit an attacking fifty on Day 3 in the second Testagainst South Africa in Johannesburg to somewhat shrug off a dry patch and then answered tough questions in the post-match press conference with a calm demeanour.
Pujara scored a crucial 53 and stitched an invaluable 111-run stand with another out-of-form veteran Ajinkya Rahane (58) in India’s second innings to set a challenging 240-run target for the hosts.
Asked if he and Rahane felt the pressure after legendary Sunil Gavaskar had predicted thatsecond innings could be their last chance, Pujara’s reply had the same positive intent that was there during his batting.
“We are confident and there is lot of backing from team management. We have always been learning from Sunny bhai and whenever I have spoken to him, he has always been supportive,” Pujara said at the end of the day’s play.
He understands that questions will be asked when runs will dry up but players like him and Rahane have won a lot of games for the team.
“Yes, there are times when you are going through bad form, there will be questions but we are confident players. Myself and Ajinkya and we know we are working hard on our game and there’s a saying form is temporary but class is permanent and it applies here.
“We have done well in past and management has showed a lot of faith in us and it has paid for sure and once batter is back in form, you keep scoring runs and keep going up and up,” he said.
For Pujara it has been a great thing that both coach Rahul Dravid and captain Virat Kohli have supported him.
“The team management has always been supportive except the outside noise, coaching staff, captain everyone has been behind the players.
“There are times when you don’t get too many runs but important is to follow right routine and keep working on game because at times, you won’t get runs but if you follow the right processes, you will get runs and this is what has happened. I am sure this form will continue.”
(With PTI inputs)
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