Cheteshwar Pujara: Being fearless has helped me enjoy my game

Cheteshwar Pujara says adopting a fearless approach has brought the joy back in his batting and that the lack of Test centuries – his last century was in 2019 – doesnโ€™t perturb him.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, Pujara said his aggressive approach in the Test series in England helped him.

โ€œYes, I feel so. When it comes to performing, the mindset was a little different but when it comes to technique I donโ€™t think there was a major change in technique. It was just the approach and I was a little fearless which helps,โ€ Pujara answered to a query from PTI ahead of teamโ€™s training session.

Pujara admitted that he was putting too much pressure on himself earlier. โ€œYou donโ€™t need to put too much pressure on yourself and just try and go there and enjoy the game rather than worrying too much about whatโ€™s going around. That was the mindset during England series. So far preparation has been good and experiences of playing in Indian conditions will help in the next couple of Tests,โ€ the senior batter said.

โ€˜Matter of one inningsโ€™

โ€œAs far as my hundred is concerned, when it has to happen it will happen. My job is to bat well for the team and itโ€™s not that I havenโ€™t been getting runs. I have got 80s and 90s. As long as I am batting well and contributing for the team, I am not bothered about my hundred. Itโ€™s matter of one innings,โ€ he said.

Pujara believes that added responsibility helps but it does not mean that he will not reach out juniors without a designation.

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โ€œAdded responsibility can work in your favour as you can share experience with youngsters. Even when I am not vice-captain, I try and share my experiences as much as I can and ultimate focus is about Indian team.โ€

Pujaraโ€™s captain for the first Test, Ajinkya Rahane has not been in the best for form for the last two years but Pujara is confident that a quality player like him wonโ€™t stay quiet for a long time. โ€œHe is a great player but there are times when a player goes through tough times and thatโ€™s part of the game. So there will be ups and downs but he is a confident player, one who works very hard on his game and I am very sure and he is just one innings away from getting a big score.

โ€œOnce he gets a big hundred, he will back in form. He has been working hard in the nets and I have been seeing the way he has been batting. He is in good touch.โ€

Rahul Dravidโ€™s entry into the Indian dressing room as head coach is a win-win situation for Pujara, whose game is modelled on current Dravidโ€™s tight defensive technique. โ€œIt will help most of the players, especially young players who have worked with Rahul bhai during U-19 and India A days. Even experienced players like us, I have played with Rahul bhai.

โ€œI have worked with him during A series, so all of us are looking forward to his guidance. The amount of experience he has as a player and coach of the team, helps.โ€

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