‘There will be some bounce and that is always a challenge’
Cheteshwar Pujara, a vital cog in India’s batting wheel, stressed the importance of leaving the ball on the bouncy pitches of South Africa during the three-Test series beginning here on Friday.
India lost the series 0-1 during its previous tour here four years ago but Pujara was amongst the runs along with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane.
“It is important to leave the ball well, especially overseas. Once you move out of Asia, there is enough bounce in the pitches and that is the reason one should be able to leave the ball,” said Pujara after a practice session.
The 29-year-old has gained valuable experience from his two trips to South Africa.
“It (the adjustment) is both technical and mental. The good thing is that most of the players have been here before. Personally, I have been here twice (2010-11 and 2013-14). It is about knowing your game, knowing the conditions and you just need to apply yourself.”
India goes into the first Test without playing a warm-up match and asked if the players would feel rusty, Pujara replied in the negative.
“When we were playing at home against Sri Lanka, we had the South Africa series in mind. We prepared a few things even in India and I don’t think we are in any rush. There is plenty of time to prepare.”
The moving ball is not so much a factor in South Africa, but the bounce is.
“Yes, there will be some bounce and that is always a challenge. But this time we have had enough preparation and would like to back ourselves and try and execute our plans.”
Pujara said a majority of the team members have played here and that experience will come in handy.
Pujara is not losing sleep over the kind of pitches the Indian batsmen will play on. “We are not bothered about the kind of pitches they will prepare. We will just try to focus on our processes. We have a clear gameplan.”
He refused to speak on the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses, saying his team was ready for it.
“It is up to South Africa how they want to prepare. It doesn’t matter who plays for them. As a unit, we are well prepared. Our pace attack is also much better this time. They are quick and we have that advantage this time.”
India will also tour England and Australia over the next 18 months, giving the team a great opportunity to become one of the greatest Indian sides of all time and Pujara acknowledged that prospect.
“We have that opportunity if we do well here and in England and Australia. We have a team which can dominate overseas and it will be one of the best teams India has ever had.”