While watching Cheteshwar Pujara during a practice session, you realize that he’s just not fascinated with batting; he loves talking about it too. Almost with the same zest. And when he’s not spending hours working on his game in the nets, he’s either picking the brains of a teammate about the finer points of batting or lending a keen ear to a senior player’s suggestions.
Like on Monday at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) ground in Hubli, where he indulged in a lengthy discussion with Gautam Gambhir regarding the pros and cons of an exaggerated back-lift along with the issue of the transfer of body weight. In Shimoga last week, meanwhile, Pujara was seen handing throwdowns to the likes of Parvez Rasool and Saurashtra teammate Sheldon Jackson, as the two right-handers worked on fine-tuning their driving techniques.
With his own batting, the India A skipper can seem like a research scientist working on a cherished thesis, trying his best to eliminate the loopholes and make it as fool-proof as possible.
Another aspect of the 25-year-old’s cricket you realize is that he hates getting out. Even in the nets. Doesn’t matter if his stumps have been knocked back by a net bowler chucking balls at him from around 18 yards or a spinner trapping him on his back-foot. Not that it occurs too often.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Pujara almost disgusted with himself after he top-edged a slop sweep into deep square leg’s hands on a placid track in Shimoga last week. And more so as he had looked at ease till then, cruising to 25. That setback had come on the back of two low scores in the first unofficial Test in Mysore.
under the radar
But such was the hype around the cheap dismissals of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, not to forget Pujara’s inherent ability to remain unsung, that the Saurashtra run-machine’s third straight ‘failure’ quietly slipped under the radar. Not as far as Pujara’s concerned though.
So prolific has he been over the last 12 months, scoring 2039 runs at 78.42 in first-class cricket including seven centuries-two doubles and one triple-that