Another chapter is set to be added to Cheteshwar Pujara’s memorable tales featuring Australia.
Ahead of a landmark 100th Test appearance on Friday against the team from Down Under, the gritty batter was all praise for the team’s approach on the playfield. “Australia has a good fighting spirit. No matter what the situation of the game is, they will always challenge you as an opponent,” acknowledged Pujara here on Thursday.
Interestingly, out of Pujara’s choice of his five best knocks, four have come against Australia. For the record, Pujara lists the 72 on debut in 2010, 92 in 2017, both in Bengaluru, 123 in 2018 in Adelaide and 56 in 2021 in Brisbane as among his favourite innings, in addition to the 153 in 2013 at Johannesburg, South Africa.
“I had to work hard to score those runs,” said Pujara and continued, “They play as a unit. They’re always vocal, even on the field. So there’s a little bit of banter going on, and sometimes that motivates me a little more because I’m not someone who will try and talk back at them. The best thing that you can do as a cricketer is to score runs and let the bat do the talking. So yes, they have been a challenging opposition.”
Asked to look back on how he has evolved as a batter and a person since his debut in 2010, Pujara said, “I’m a little more open-minded now. I have learned that one has to be a little flexible to adapt to different situations, try and add a few more shots and be open to changes in your game and your technique.
“As a person, I’m still the same Cheteshwar that people know. I don’t think you need to change as a person as long as you are a good human being. So I always try to do that.”
Meanwhile, Australian skipper Pat Cummins stayed tight-lipped about the playing XI and also about the fifth bowling option.
“Having a right-hander (in a yet-to-recover Cameron Green) helps and him providing our fifth bowling option certainly helps the team function well,” he said.
Given the uncertainty over the fitness of pacer Mitchell Starc, Cummins did not rule out the return of Scott Boland by adding, “I think there’s a conversation. We’ll work that out.”