“The spinners need to continue the good work on Tuesday since the ball is spinning a bit more and the odd ball is kicking up,” said double centurion Cheteshwar Pujara at the end of the third day’s play in the second cricket Test against Australia here on Monday.
Pujara said that the way two Australian batsmen — David Warner and Phillip Hughes — were dismissed playing the sweep stroke, was because of a game-plan. “The idea was to bowl in the rough and force them to play those kind of strokes,” he said.
“The Australians will have to apply themselves a lot on this wicket. It is not going to be easy to bat on. So far they have not known how to counter our spinners on turning tracks. We know what their strengths and weaknesses are,” Pujara said.
On scoring 1000 runs for India in Test cricket, Pujara said he never looked at records. “I am happy with what I have achieved so far. Be it club cricket or internationals, I have always enjoyed playing the game and I love to play big knocks. And when you score a century for your country, it gives you huge satisfaction,” he said. He added that playing against New Zealand here earlier, helped him in this match.
“I cannot make any comparisons between the two double centuries I have scored in my Test career so far. The conditions and the opponents were different. But what pleases me is that both the efforts were important for the team,” he said.
On the strategy when he and Murali Vijay were involved in that marathon partnership he said, “in the first session on Sunday when the ball was doing a bit, we told ourselves that we should not lose our wickets. We played the bowling on merit and we are happy that it worked well.”
“Once I scored my century, I played my natural game,” he said recalling how he overtook the more flamboyant Vijay in that particular phase of the partnership.
Referring to his discomfort on the field while batting, Pujara disclosed that he had pulled a hamstring muscle. “It was very painful in the first session on Sunday morning but as the game progressed, I felt better.”
Damage done already
“Overall it was a pleasing effort by us,” said Xavier Doherty speaking about himself and off-break bowler Glenn Maxwell who shared seven wickets when India batted.
“But the damage was already done. Somehow, things just haven’t been going our way,” he added.
“When Pujara and Murali were batting, it looked tough. But once Maxi (Maxwell) got the breakthrough, things became easier for us,” he said.
The Aussie spinner said that they were aware how difficult it would be to bowl to Indian batsmen who are very good players of spin. “Warny (Shane Warne) did have a chat with us and reminded us that even he and Murali (Muthiah Muralitharan) always struggled against Indians — especially in India,” he said.
“So it was just a matter of grinding on. I was prepared for this experience. Even my last two Tests before this tour were very tough,” Doherty said.
“There is lot of hard work to be done now. The first target would be to bat the whole day. Ideally, we should be looking for a minimum target of 150-plus to defend in the fourth innings,” said Doherty.