There are times when strike rate hardly matters: Cheteshwar Pujara

Chennai, Jan 31:
There are times when balls faced matter a lot more than runs scored and the recent tour of Australia was all about that for India’s Test batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara, who finds the “strike-rate talk” overrated.
Pujara had collected a lot more runs (521 at 41.41 strike rate and three hundreds) in his player of the series performance to ensure a historic triumph in Australia two seasons ago but considering the “extraordinary circumstances” of the recent showdown that just went by, he rates his effort (271 at 29.20 and three half-centuries) equally special.
“Both tours have been fantastic for the team and personally I did well on both tours but the circumstances were completely different. This time I was starting up after a long time, almost eight months (due to COVID-19), there were no first class games also,” Pujara told PTI before entering the bio-bubble for the upcoming home series against England.
The 31-year-old stood like a rock through the series, quite literally in the final Test in Brisbane, where he took multiple blows on the body to keep a relentless Australian attack at bay. “It wasn’t easy at all in terms of preparation and the Australian team had a thorough game plan for each of us. To get back into rhythm took a little bit of time but luckily all went positive in the end. “Numbers wise, it may not look like a very, very good series for me but if you look at the pitches, not many runs were scored this time. It was more challenging than last time without a doubt.”
As often is the case, Pujara’s strike-rate was a constant subject of debate as he wore down the trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc to make things slightly easier for the batsman at the other end.
“There are times when strike rate hardly matters. Every batter has a role to play. The team management completely understands that. Whether it was Ravi bhai (coach) or Vicky bhai (batting coach) or Ajinkya, they just told me to keep batting the way I bat.
“The batting coach also mentioned that Aussies were not giving anything away. So, it wasn’t that I wasn’t batting well but they hardly bowled any loose balls.
“I had to take extra time to score those runs. I always saw the bigger picture because I knew that it would be tough for the bowlers to run through the side if I was around at the other end.”

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