After his match-winning century which led India to a series win in Sri Lanka after 22 years Pujara has himself done the world of good. Pujara after being dropped from the playing eleven in a couple of series grabbed the opportunity in the 3rd Test and made full use of it. The Saurashtra batsman is now ready to follow his skipper Virat Kohli’s advice and assume an attacking role at No. 3. The batsman spoke to TOI in an exclusive chat on Wednesday.
The 145 not out against Sri Lanka came at a time when you needed it the most. Tell us about the knock.
I would rate it among my top three knocks because the conditions were challenging. While we played the first two Tests on wickets where there was very little grass, the SSC pitch had a fair amount of grass. There was quite a bit of pressure, but I knew that I had to make use of the opportunity.
Did opening the innings put you under more pressure?
It had been a while since I opened the innings. But as I said, I looked at it as an opportunity to stake my claim in the side. Also, batting at No. 3 prepared me well to face the new ball. Of course, there were nervous moments but I have always felt comfortable in the middle.
Rahul Dravid had said there was nothing wrong with your technique. You only needed to spend time in the middle to gain confidence. Is the confidence back in your batting?
I was not batting poorly. I was scoring runs in domestic and county cricket. When I went for the India A camp, I had a few sessions with Dravid and he told me there is nothing wrong with my technique. That statement had assured me about my batting. Then I was waiting for a chance. And once that came, I think I was successful in making the most of it.
Now that you have made a point, would you like to go back to batting in your favourite position at No. 3?
I would be very happy if I get back to batting at No. 3 in the next series. But then, I am really flexible when it comes to the batting order. Having scored runs in all positions and getting back to form, I am ready to fill in any spot which the team management wants.
Virat Kohli had said that he wants someone at No. 3 who would be an enforcer. Does that make you a bit uncomfortable since you like to take your time to settle down?
There is a difference between batting positively and aggressively and being an enforcer. I think what Virat meant was the No. 3 batsman needs to play positively. At the end of the day, you are playing a Test match and by what he had said, it doesn’t mean that you need to take a run off every ball, but you need to have a positive mindset where you can dominate the bowlers and not the other way round. I am completely aware of what Virat wants and there is no communication gap between us.
But there is a perception that you won’t fit the role when it comes to batting in shorter formats. Are you being typecast as a Test batsman?
I know about this perception, but then it is only a perception. If you look at my strike rate in the Tests, it is around 50 and even if it is not in the range of what Virender Sehwag or Chris Gayle have, it is on par with the other batsmen.