India’s saviour Cheteshwar Pujara reckoned that his innings on Day 1 of the Adelaide Test against Australia was one of the best knocks he has played in his career.
“It is one of my best innings in Test cricket, can put it even in the top 5. My teammates were certainly saying so!,” said India’s No. 3 at the press conference at the end of the day’s play.
Virat Kohli’s side had the advantage of batting first on a good first day wicket but the top order failed to apply themselves and succumbed to the new ball. KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane went for expansive drives early in their innings and only managed to get themselves dismissed caught behind or in the slips. On the other hand, Pujara played attritional cricket throughout the day and went on to score his maiden century in Australia.
“The top order made mistakes but they will learn from them and try and perform in the second innings. For me personally, I had prepared well and the overall experienced I have gained through playing Tests and First-Class cricket helped me out.”
“I knew I had to stay patient and wait for the loose balls but they bowled in the right areas and kept the pressure on.
India were reeling at 41 for four at one stage but Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant provided some resistance at the other end as Pujara stayed solid as a rock. From 127 for six, Ravichandran Ashwin and Pujara stitched together a 62-run stand to get their side close to the 200-run mark.
Speaking in detail about his innings, Pujara said: “It was tough but once I was set, I knew I could play my shots, especially once we lost seven wickets. Once we lost Ashwin, I knew I had to accelerate. I knew what shots I could play on that wicket because I stuck around for two sessions.”
After Ashwin’s wicket, Pujara took the attack to the Australian bowlers and scored at a strike-rate of just below hundred, pushing his score to 123 off 246 deliveries before he was run out by a brilliant effort by Pat Cummins.
“I was disappointed with the run out,” said Pujara about his dismissal. “I had to take that single because only two balls were left and wanted to be on strike. I took a chance but credit goes to the fielder for that effort.”
‘Usman Khawaja 3.0’
The Australians had their tails up and one of the high points of the day was an in-form Kohli’s early dismissal, courtesy a special effort on the field. Kohli, who was batting on three, tried to drive a wide delivery from Pat Cummins but a flying Usman Khawaja plucked it out of thin air with a one-handed effort at gully.
Mitchell Starc coined his teammate ‘Usman Khawaja 3.0’ after the day’s play.
“He’s on fire. He’s made a huge effort over the last nine months and it is showing in his batting and in his fielding. Hopefully, he’s going to have a great time with the bat as well”
Speaking about his side’s bowling efforts, the pacer reckoned that the bowlers failed to continue the pressure in the latter stages of the day’s play but applauded Pujara for his innings.
“I thought we bowled really well for four hours, well for another and got it wrong in the end,” said the Australian pacer. “Credit to Pujara. He’s someone who likes to absorb pressure and bat a long time.”
“It is not a wicket that has as much purchase as we have seen in previous games with the pink ball. It swung and seamed a bit with the new ball but for the most part it was a good wicket.”
“If you asked at the start of the day, that we would have lost the toss and the opposition was nine for 250 at stumps, we would’ve taken that,” Starc signed off.