Adelaide: Cheteshwar Pujara raced past 5,000 Test runs and on the way scored one of his best centuries on Thursday, with the experienced N0. 3 crediting a stint at Yorkshire for helping him prepare.
The 30-year-old compiled a patient 123 in hot and difficult conditions at Adelaide Oval to help India stay in the opening Test against Australia with 250-9 at stumps.
He rated his 16th Test ton as among his most memorable, hitting seven fours and two sixes in his 246-ball stay at the crease as wickets fell around him.
“It was one of my top innings in Test cricket, I could say top five. I can’t rate whether it was one of the best but the teammates who were appreciating said that this is one of the best,” he said.
Pujara began slowly, grinding out ones and twos, and only really started going after the bowlers as they tired towards the end of the day.
He was run out attempting a quick single on the second-last ball of the day by a diving Pat Cummins.
“I was a bit disappointed but I had to take that single because only the last two balls were left and I thought I should be on strike, so I took the chance but he fielded brilliantly,” he explained.
Pujara tends not to play much white ball cricket and said the extra time he had to prepare for the Test series had paid dividends.
He said his innings had demonstrated that he was as comfortable scoring runs overseas as at home.
“It means a lot [the century], but I would also like to say that people say that I’ve scored more runs in India,” said the right-hander, who is playing his 65th Test.
“But at the same time, you need to look at the number of matches we play in India. So I will obviously score runs there.
“At times I’ve had bad phases playing overseas but I still feel very confident when it comes to different conditions.
“Playing County cricket has helped me a lot, and playing in England conditions are always challenging and when you come to Australia you know that it is slightly better.
“And as I said, I had a pretty decent time to prepare before this Test series.”
Pujara has had two stints as an overseas player for county side Yorkshire, in 2015 and again during the recent English summer. He has also appeared for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
“I would say it is a decent total because there is enough turn,” Pujara said at the post match press conference.
“Ashwin will also come into play. It is not an easy wicket to bat on. Sometimes when you are seeing it on TV, it doesn’t look like it is doing a lot but when I batted in the first and second sessions, I felt it wasn’t easy to bat on. I will share my experience of what line and length to bowl on this pitch with our fast bowlers.”
“It is the grass. The odd ball is skidding on, and the odd ball is holding a bit more from the grass. I would say it is kind of a two-paced pitch, and it is not easy to bat on,” he added.