The biggest statement during Cheteshwar Pujara’s press-conference was made much after the session concluded!
The Indian team’s media manager Dr. R.N. Baba hurried back to the hall and said: “One announcement, Pujara has dedicated this hundred to his father, it is his father’s birthday today.”
Those words spoke about a middle-class lad’s values and it also revealed the close bond he shares with his father Arvind Pujara, back home at Rajkot.
But it wasn’t just about respect and roots because Pujara did reveal, albeit mildly, an aggressive streak. When asked about the extra emotion he showed on reaching his hundred against the Proteas on Friday, India’s No. 3 said: “There was a lot of talk about this tour, especially the Indian batsmen not doing well overseas but I think everybody took the responsibility and did it as a unit. It was an important innings for me because I wanted to score runs in South Africa, considering the conditions here are a little difficult.”
Pujara banked on the Indian seamers to deliver on the final day as the pitch was more suited towards the fast bowlers. “The wicket has variable bounce and the cracks have been opening up. Even while I was batting, I felt that the odd ball was going up and down.
“We are very happy with the two wickets we have got and the conditions will be a little more difficult tomorrow. It’s important for us to get a few wickets in the first session. Because of the variable bounce it’s tough to face pace bowlers than the spinners and the fast bowlers can do more damage,” said Pujara.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s assistant coach Adrian Birrell said that his team is prepared for ‘the long fight.’ “We are trying to draw (strength) from past experiences in which we have done a bit of both — winning and drawing games. We need partnerships. We are not looking at the big picture at the moment.
“We have respect for the Indian team. They have out-batted and out-bowled us in this match but we have players who have done this (drawn a match) in the past and if we can have a good first session then we could last the day,” Birrell said.