Having played key roles in India's series wins against Sri Lanka and South Africa, Cheteshwar Pujara is now eyeing a Ranji title with Saurashtra. He also tells TOI about his desire to play in shorter formats. Excerpts from the interview:
How do you react when people say your batting is not suitable for shorter formats?
It's a perception. People assume things because I haven't played that many games for India in the shorter formats. You can't say that I can't (play). I have just played three or four One-Day Internationals. If you look at other players, they have got more opportunities. It's a matter of time. With more runs in the domestic circuit and possibly in the Indian Premier League (IPL), things can change.
I have spoken to big players like Rahul bhai (Dravid) and Sachin paaji (Tendulkar) and they told me there's nothing wrong with my technique. They also believe that I can play the other formats. I am working on a few other shots which have given me results in domestic T20. If I have more shots it will be an advantage.
What kind of shots?
I don't want to say. I don't want bowlers to get an idea. If I keep working on different shots, it will create doubts in the bowler's mind. Look at AB de Villiers, he plays every shot from the sweep to the paddle sweep to the reverse sweep to fast bowlers, so bowlers are not sure what is coming their way.
How difficult was the comeback against Sri Lanka?
Comebacks are always difficult because there are so many things going on in your mind. Sometimes you feel you might not get another opportunity. I thought that the amount of runs I have made at the domestic level and even at the international level... I felt I needed to stay focused.
Because of the kind of start I got to my international career, expectations were high because I have scored double hundreds. But that is in the past. I am batting well. I am back in form. I am looking good in the nets. I did well even in the domestic T20s. I think I am capable of playing ODIs and T20s too. I have worked on those aspects. I was fourth or fifth in the run-getters list in T20s.
Your teammates Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are playing orthodox shots even in the T20 format. Does that inspire you, that you can also do the same?
Definitely. If you look at the ODI format, you don't need to accelerate as much as in T20s. You can still take your time and once you are set, you can play your shots. If you look at my Test knocks, a lot of the time I start slowly because you need to get set. But once I am set I always accelerate and the strike rate is always on the higher side.
Did you speak to Virender Sehwag about your approach in T20s when you shared dressing room with him in the Kings XI Punjab set-up?
I did. He told me, `You have all the shots in the book.' It's all about expressing yourself in the middle.