Chattogram : In India’s day one of first Test against Bangladesh, veteran top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara was the glue which kept the visitors’ innings together with his gritty 90 off 203 balls.
Many were expecting the number three batter to get a Test hundred for the first time since January 2019, but Taijul Islam castling him ten runs short of a ton meant Pujara’s wait for a century in the format continues.
But the man himself isn’t much worried about missing out on a chance to end the wait for his 19th Test hundred. “The way I was batting, and looking at the pitch, it was not an easy pitch to bat on. So, I am really happy with the way I batted today.
Sometimes we try to pay attention to the three-figure mark. But the most important thing when you play the sport is try and put the team in a situation where we have a chance of winning this game,” he said in the post-match press conference.
In the first session, Bangladesh had taken out Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli to reduce India to 48/3 in 19.3 overs. Pujara and Rishabh Pant (46) led the initial recovery for India through a counter-attacking 64-run stand.
But once Pant fell in the second session, Pujara joined hands with Shreyas Iyer (82 not out) to lead another rescue act for India through a solid 149-run stand for the fifth wicket as India ended day one at 278/6 in 90 overs.
With the pitch showing signs of turn and variable bounce from day one, Pujara thinks a result will be produced. “This pitch looks like will yield a result and we needed some runs on the board. So, I think my partnership with Shreyas was very important and with Rishabh also.
Once we lost three wickets, there was the time to build a partnership and put up a decent total. So, I am really happy with the way I batted today. I am not too worried about getting the three-figure mark. I have been batting well, so if I carry on like this, hopefully it will come soon.”
With Ravichandran Ashwin set to join Iyer at the start of day two, followed by Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, Pujara was optimistic about India getting to 350-mark and hoped for the Indian bowling attack to make the most out of turn and variable bounce offered by the pitch at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
“Looking at the pitch, we have a decent total on board. But say if we were four or five down, things would have been even better. But I feel that if we get somewhere close to 350, it will be a decent total on this pitch because we have seen that there is enough turn for the spinners.”
“We have three spinners in our team and with the fast bowlers, the odd ball is staying low. So, it’s not an easy pitch to bat on and hopefully, our bowlers will do the job or us. There was a variable bounce.”
“Even from first or second over onwards, if you look, the odd ball had been keeping low. Same thing happened with the second new ball also, when the odd balls from them were keeping low. I hope that we will try to make the most out of it.”
Asked about how the pitch would pan out in the coming days of the match, Pujara opined it would become tougher for batting as the game progresses. “Once the ball gets old, it’s slightly easier (to bat on). The bowlers also get tired; they can’t be bowling in the same area for a longer time.”
“With the kookaburra ball, we always know as a batting unit that the first 20-30 overs are always important, no matter what kind of pitch you play on. Once you get through that phase, things are slightly easier.”
“But still it’s a pitch where you are never set and you have to concentrate hard for a longer period of time. One ball in an over is turning consistently, so you can’t relax as a batsman as it’s still a challenging pitch for batters to bat on. It will keep getting worse to bat on.”