Within 24 hours of his selection in the Indian team for the first three One-Day Internationals against England, Cheteshwar 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. Excerpts:
On getting selected for India: I was expecting the call. I have done well in the domestic one-dayers and also for India ‘A’. Now it’s a question of proving the same at the international level. 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.
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 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. So you need one batsman who can just stay there and rotate the strike. 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. 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: Even if my selection was delayed I got more experience and more exposure at the domestic level. 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.
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.