IPL 7 News: Cheteshwar Pujara: I Can be a Jacques Kallis

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By Shruthi SU | April 23, 2014 3:56 PM EST

Pujara will look to come down the pitch and entertain fans more often.
Pujara will look to come down the pitch and entertain fans more often.

Cheteshwar Pujara is a name that brings to mind the whites of the uniform, the reds of the ball and the calm of the day. But, playing for the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL could require a vibrant view, a hurried sense of time and an urge to hit no matter what.

It could be that the sensibilities of a Test match don't quite fit in the T20 format. However, Pujara hopes that the ability and the intent to score runs should help him get better at the shortest format of the game. IPL, if nothing else, has given him the spotlight to perform and impress.

"The basics of cricket remain the same, irrespective of the format you play," Pujara told the official IPL site. "You have to hit the cricket ball at the end of the day. I know how to play the cricket ball to the best of my abilities.

"My way of hitting may be classical where you try and time the ball. In the T20 format, you are required to hit it harder and find the gaps whenever possible. It is just about fine-tuning your game, rather than making changes in the way you play. I cannot be flamboyant like Glenn Maxwell or David Miller, but I can always be a Jacques Kallis who plays proper cricketing shots, but can still score runs at a good strike-rate. This is what I am looking for."

With goals that high, Pujara is trying to extend his confidence to the 22 yards. On Tuesday, he played a couple of useful knocks against the Rajasthan Royals and the Sunrisers Hyderabad which put Punjab in a position to allow the likes of Maxwell and Miller to go all guns blazing.

"You have to be more innovative in this format," the Saurashtra batsman said. "If you are playing ODIs, you are still fine playing normal cricketing shots and accelerating later on. But in T20s, you have to be innovative and you don't get as much time to get settled and then start playing your shots.

"In my case with the Kings XI Punjab, I am opening the innings and I have to be ready to hit the ball from ball-one or the very first over. The job becomes a bit difficult, but with time and few more matches, I will get better. I am getting better with each passing day."

Pujara had to perform well, scoring triple hundreds and double hundreds for six long years of first class cricket, to finally get a call to the national team. Though regarded an asset in Test cricket, often mirroring the temperament of Rahul Dravid, Pujara is hardly considered suitable for the shorter formats of the game. In the IPL, Pujara opens the innings with a flamboyant player in Virender Sehwag. The 26-year-old says that the man who handed him his first Test cap has played a major role in shaping his career.

"I speak a lot to Viru paa regarding my game, not just in T20s, but also in the longer format," Pujara added. "When I made my debut, he was the one who gave me my Test cap. From that time onwards, he has been guiding me, not just in Tests, but he also tells me how to go about my game in ODIs and T20s. I chat with him about the IPL and he has been guiding me really well."

A last word on the IPL team he is playing for? "Even before the IPL started, we always felt we had a very good team. On paper, the team was excellent but we had to execute things on the field. We are happy with the way things have gone so far. Three out of three is good and hope we can make five out of five in Dubai and then continue our momentum in India."

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(Photo: Ron Gaunt / IPL / SPORTZPICS / )
Pujara will look to come down the pitch and entertain fans more often.
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