“I couldn’t have done anything better than what I was doing,” senior batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said, putting up a stout defence of his ultra-defensive batting that came in for heavy criticism on the third day of the third Test against Australia.
Pujara said it was some brilliant bowling by the Australians which forced him to crawl to his slowest ever Test half-century.
Pujara scored 50 off 176 balls as his slow batting helped Australia gain complete control of the third Test with an overall lead of 197 runs.
“I was batting well and got a good ball. I just have to accept it. I couldn’t have done anything better than what I was doing. I feel I just have to bat the way, I know,” Pujara said during the day-end media conference.
According to Pujara, his nemesis Patrick Cummins bowled the “ball of the series” about which he couldn’t do anything.
“He bowls unplayable deliveries. I felt that was the best ball of this series. I don’t think I could have done anything about that ball which kicked from back of length, I had to play that ball as there was extra bounce. When its not your day, the margin of error is very little,” he explained.
He also didn’t pay much credence to theories that a finger injury sustained during nets at the MCG was the reason for not being able to play freely.
“Not really, I think. I don’t think it put any trouble as far as my batting is concerned. It’s not easy and I am not hundred percent (fit). I won’t say I am completely normal. This was something that was expected and I can manage this little bit of pain. It’s an important game so I can’t miss out,” Pujara said.
Asked why he didn’t bring out the hook or pull shot when Australian bowlers employed the three-man leg side trap, Pujara effectively dodged the question.
“They bowled good line and lengths. They had fair idea of this pitch. I think we should give credit to the way they bowled. They didnt give too many loose balls,” he said.
In fact he felt that difference in this Test match has been the relative inexperience of the bowling attack.
“If you look at our fast bowling line-up, they are slightly inexperienced but they are improving day by day, they will get better. It’s a good opportunity for them to learn and I am sure we have good bunch of fast bowlers who can learn from best and get better as they play more games,” he said.
He termed Rishabh Pant’s dismissal as the turning point of the Indian innings.
“If you look at the way our innings was progressing, we were in trouble only when Rishabh got out. Till then we were in a comfortable position. We were 180 for 4, and we were doing well. Things turned around when Rishabh got out and then I got out. We didn’t score many after that. Losing Rishabh was a turnaround.
“If we had a partnership going, we would have certainly put a decent total on the board. Our aim was to get close to 330 or 340 but we missed out there. And yes losing Ajinkya Rahane early in the first session, was also a big blow.”
Pujara said that losing Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling in the second innings would be crucial as they are now bowler short.
“To be honest, it does affect as we are only left with four bowlers. It puts little extra pressure on other bowlers to come in and put extra overs. It’s never easy to lose a bowler and someone like Ravindra who got four wickets in first innings and can keep bowling from one end.
“Jadeja can land the ball on same spot and puts pressure on the batsman, he bowls many dot balls. He is always valuable not just as a bowler but also a fielder. It’s a kind of blow for us but we will comeback strongly. First session will be crucial. We will definitely put up a better show tomorrow morning.”