Cheteshwar Pujara, in an exclusive interview with NDTV, has spoken about India’s historic win in Australia, the upcoming series against England at home and also the Indian Premier League (IPL). India’s Test batting star was part of a young Indian team that without it’s leader and talisman Virat Kohli managed to defeat the Australians to clinch the Test series Down Under 2-1. The middle-order batsman said that India’s batting unit did better than the Australians, and the win was made possible thanks to the team’s character and grit.
“Great country to play cricket. Australia are a very competitive team. Our guys showed a lot of character and grit. It was very difficult to accept our low score in Adelaide. We took the rest of the series as a three-match series,” Pujara told NDTV.
“The turnaround happened in Melbourne. Once we won in Melbourne and the series was 1-1, we knew we had a chance of winning the series.”
“Australia a good side but did not bat well. From second Test onwards, we achieved the goals that we set as a batting unit,” said Pujara.
The Test star remained unperturbed despite being subjected to a bouncer barrage by the Australian fast bowlers. Pujara took numerous blows to the body but battled on during the Gabba Test as Rishabh Pant produced a magical knock to get India across the line.
Speaking about the blows that he took, Pujara said: “There is a little bit of blood clot on the shoulder but it’s all settled, now. I have recovered well.”
“You have all the protection when you are wearing the helmet. But the one I got hit on the finger was really painful. That was the toughest blow. I thought my finger was broken.
“I was first hit on my finger during the nets session in Melbourne. I carried the niggle to Sydney. But when I was hit on the same finger in Brisbane, it was unbearable,” said India’s batting star.
The right-hander also looked forward to the upcoming challenge at home, saying England will be no pushovers.
“Looking forward to the England series. Most important aspect is to qualify for the World Test Championship final. The guys are aiming for that. They play good cricket in India. They have done well in Sri Lanka as well. We can’t take them lightly,” said Pujara ahead of the start of the Test series in Chennai from February 5.
Pujara, who has made his name for his resolve and patience in the longest format of the game, also expressed his interest in playing in the Indian Premier League.
“Definitely want to be part of the IPL. Given an opportunity, I am confident I’ll be able to do well,” said the 33-year-old.
Pujara also spoke about being called ‘Steve’ during his stint with English county side Yorkshire.
A former employee of the county team, Taj Butt had revealed that every “person of colour” was called ‘Steve’ in Yorkshire, even Pujara.
“I never felt I was racially abused. I had a wonderful time playing for Yorkshire. I am not sure if that name ‘Steve’ was used for me in that manner. A friend over there had a hard time pronouncing my name,” Pujara concluded.
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