Cheteshwar Pujara is looking forward to excel in limited over internationals. Within 24 hours of his selection in the Indian team for the first three One-Day Internationals against England, Pujara faced half a dozen net bowlers at the practise facility of the Saurashtra University here on Monday.
He practised the paddle sweep, the chip shot over mid-on and mid-off and a few more. His selection in the team was expected and he confirmed it in the course of an interaction with the media.
On getting selected for India (LOI-50 overs): I was expecting the call. I have done well in the domestic one-dayers and also for India ‘A’. So I am quite confident that I can play the ODIs. I have proved myself at the domestic level and now it’s a question of proving the same at the international level. I am hopeful of getting to play in the final eleven; maybe not in the first match (against England). I will know my role once I am given the chance and I am very hopeful of doing very well.
Advantage of playing a variety of strokes: When I practise I try and learn new shots, but most of the time I try and make sure my technique is correct rather than being flamboyant. I just play the ball on its merit and it gives me a good result. I try a few shots that will help me in ODIs that I don’t want to talk about now because if I say it now, the secret will be out.
Conventional vs unorthodox shots: I played a couple of reverse sweeps in the last match against Madhya Pradesh. Actually, I started playing the reverse a couple of years ago when the bowlers started adopting negative tactics, like the left-arm spinner bowling over the stumps and onto my pads. In these circumstances you have more space on the off-side and the chances of getting out are less, so I have been working on that shot and I have had some decent success with it. That is the kind of shot you don’t like to play often, but if the situation demands it, then you need to learn it.
India’s need for a steady batsman in ODIs: Definitely. In the ODIs you have a lot of time when compared to T20s. One has to rotate the strike to utilise the 300 balls. This way you can keep the strike rate going and later on you can always accelerate and cross the 300 mark. So you need one batsman who can just stay there and rotate the strike. I can fill that role, but all depends on what number I will be batting at. It’s very situational.
Mindset to play ODIs: I believe that if you try and play on merit, even if the first ball is a half-volley, you can hit it for a four. It’s not necessary to lift the ball, but I am not denying that you cannot play all shots along the ground. You have to assess the situation, strike rate, batting first or second and a lot of other factors in the selection of shots.
On delayed selection: People say that my selection was delayed for Test cricket. When I was selected I scored and I was like a mainstay in the team. So even if my selection was delayed I got more experience and more exposure at the domestic level. We have decent bowlers and decent competitive cricket at the domestic level; so the more cricket I played, even if it was in the domestic tournaments, I was happy because ultimately I was improving as a cricketer. So the delay in selection did not matter much.
Overcoming injuries: Injuries helped me not just to improve as a batsman, but as a cricketer because I had to work on my fielding, my fitness and I had to become mentally strong as well.
India’s domestic system: I think we have a proper system. The NCA has played a bigger role in my development. I got the best treatment there as part of rehabilitation, I get chances to bat there. The NCA has the best gym, trainers, physios and so I think the NCA has played a big role and I am sure all the cricketers who have been there will appreciate it
Opportunities for first-class cricketers in India: I have heard that the BCCI has decided to schedule frequent India ‘A’ tours. It’s going to be very helpful for the youngsters. When I went to the UK and West Indies it was really helpful for me playing in different conditions.