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IPL 2021: I Am Not A Power Hitter But You Can Score Runs By Playing Cricket Shots: Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara is making a comeback into the Indian Premier League (IPL) after seven years and talks about the challenges of switching from the five-day format to T20 cricket, his issues with strike rate and the role he sees himself playing for the new franchise.

IPL 2021: I Am Not A Power Hitter But You Can Score Runs By Playing Cricket Shots: Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara is making a comeback into the Indian Premier League (IPL) after seven years and will be seen wearing the yellow jersey representing the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in 2021. Pujara does not have a great record in T20 cricket or the IPL and is keen to give a push to his 20-over career starting this year. In an interview with Cricinfo the Indian Test specialist talks about the challenges of switching from the five-day format to T20 cricket, his issues with strike rate and the role he sees himself playing for the new franchise.

Pujara has been wary in the past and a bit reluctant in changing his game for the shortest format worried that it may affect his batting in Test cricket – where he is regarded as the New Wall of India and one of the finest in India’s history. However, he said those inhibitions have gone away with experience and maturity.

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“Absolutely. It all comes with experience. When I was playing the T20 format in the past, I had a little bit of a worry that what if my Test cricket gets spoiled? Then there will be some technical error once the IPL gets over. But now I am over that. What I realised over a period of time is my natural game, my strengths, will never go away.”

Pujara was grateful to Rahul Dravid for his advice. The original Wall of India told Pujara that his natural game and core will not change even if he tried to experiment playing different shots in T20 cricket.

“This advice I got from Rahul bhai long ago, but I would still like to mention it. He told me that your natural game will not change although you try playing different shots. I started playing cricket at an early age. I made my first-class debut in 2005-06. So it is almost 15 years now where I’ve played this game. So if I am playing the T20 format now, when I prepare for a Test series I won’t forget Test cricket. Adapting to T20 format and moving into Test cricket again won’t be an issue, for sure.”

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Pujara still believed that if a batsman can tackle the red cherry then playing the white ball was like a jog in the park.

“I definitely think so, especially the way the white ball travels. It is just about making the mental change. I feel that mentally if you are ready to make some adjustments, you don’t need to take a lot of pressure. In Test cricket there is a lot of pressure, there is a price on your wicket. But in the shorter format you just need to express yourself and play all the shots you can.”

On his thoughts on 20-over cricket becoming more strategic and role specific, Pujara stressed on the need for being flexible in the format.

“I am very flexible now. And one has to be in this format. There was a time where players used to choose their role, but now players have changed, their roles have changed, and the most successful are the ones who are very flexible in the way they do things.”

Strike Rate is the most significant attribute for a batsman in T20 cricket and Pujara has had problems with his scoring rate even in Test cricket. When asked how he will tackle this problem the batsman replied that he will play proper cricketing shots and rely on his timing.

“The stability, the cricketing sense – to read the bowler, to understand the bowler, to understand the situation. It is something I have learned by playing the Test format, and even shorter formats. I have played limited-overs cricket in domestic cricket [in India] as well in county cricket. Just by playing those matches you realise what you can do in a particular situation. So that is something which can be helpful, because you need to understand what a bowler is trying to do, how the pitch is behaving, and what the shots are that you can play on a particular pitch.”

“And when it comes to strike rate, yes, I agree that I’m not a power-hitter. But at the same time, you learn from players like Virat and Rohit, they are not purely power-hitters, but one of the best timers of the ball I have seen in the shorter formats,” added Pujara.

Pujara further stated that above everything else it is a player’s cricketing sense that is his main weapon.

“You learn from players like Kane Williamson. Even Steven Smith. All of them score runs by just playing cricketing shots, and at the same time they will be innovative. I also have that mindset, that if I want to be successful, I also need to be innovative, but at the same time you can still score runs by playing cricket shots. You need to get better at generating power, I won’t deny that, but ultimately cricketing sense is what I feel will be your main strength.”