Melbourne: Cheteshwar Pujara is not known to score at a fast clip but the slowness of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) track was something that bogged down even India’s dogged No. 3 during the first innings of the third Test against Australia.
“We have to bat like the way the wicket is behaving and what the situation is. On this pitch, every batsman has to play a lot of balls to score runs. If it were a different wicket maybe I would have scored 140-150 after playing so many deliveries. But in Test cricket it is important to read both situation and pitch when batting,” Pujara, who scored 106 off 319 balls in India's first innings total of 443/7 declared, said.
Pujara admitted that the pitch is extremely difficult to bat on and the runs put on board is good enough to challenge Australia.
“It is a tough pitch to score on. If we look at first two days number of runs scored are very less and in a way I would say that 200 in a day is a tough task, so I think we have enough runs on the board,” said Pujara.
The variable bounce will cause problems for Australia, feels the Saurashtra batsman, who himself got a delivery that kept low after pitching.
“As batsmen, there are always doubts when playing on such pitches and the ball which I got out to, I couldn't have done anything about that. So if it stays low, you have limited options,” Pujara explained.
“As we saw today, the pitch has already started deteriorating and has variable bounce on it. When I was batting yesterday and today I felt there was a difference.
“So I don't think it’s easier to bat now. From tomorrow onwards, I think it will get difficult to bat and our bowlers have been bowling well, so I think we have enough runs on the board,” Pujara stated.
Pujara said the variable bounce in the pitch will help Indian bowlers as well. “As a batsmen, it is tough to get used to this pace, you will get a slower one, and one odd ball kicks up and I got hit on my finger 3-4 times. Those were not short balls. They were back of length and I got hit on my gloves.”
However, the low bounce didn't affect Pujara. “Low bounce didn't affect me a lot because I always trusted the bounce on this pitch. But when you have variable bounce it becomes difficult. Pat Cummins is a fantastic bowler and throughout the series he has bowled well.
“He always uses variation in bounce, he has done even in India, and he tries to bowl cross seam in between. I don't think it was particularly for my wicket. But I think bowling cross seam is obviously helping him (Cummins),” Pujara said, praising the Aussie paceman.
Pujara put on 170 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli who got out for 82. The skipper had complained of a back issue, but the centurion said it didn't seem serious. He also added that whilst enjoying the big partnership with Kohli, it was key to India's tall score.
“He is such a great timer of the ball. His straight drive struck me the most, especially in this innings. The way he was hitting the ball, when I was standing at the non-striker's end, I could see his full face. That is one shot I really enjoyed watching,” Pujara said.