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Getting injured was the toughest phase of my career: Chetashwar Pujara

Pujara is set to play his 50th Test match for India in Colombo next week.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara. (Photo Source: BCCI)

When Chestashwar Pujara started scoring heavily for Saurashtra in the late noughties, everyone knew that he will be a sound Test player. After making his debut for India in 2010, Pujara showed early indications of his sound technique and a penchant for big scores. At the cusp of his 50th game, the 29-year old looked back at his career.

‘My dad my best and worst critic’

Soon after making an impressive 72 on debut in the fourth innings, Pujara missed a considerable amount of cricket due to injuries. Following the retirements of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in 2012, Pujara’s career finally flourished as he made 159 on his return to the Test squad batting at No. 3. He calls his father his biggest critic but says that he isn’t too strict anymore.

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“My father has always been my best and worst critic. At times, he has been very critical but now we have come to an understanding, where we always speak and we come to a conclusion. And he is not very strict anymore,” Pujara said.

Pujara, who has 3966 runs at 52.18 so far in 49 Tests, said that he was proud of the upcoming landmark of playing 50 Tests for India. He is looking forward to scoring runs to celebrate the occasion.

“It has been a wonderful journey so far. Playing the 50th Test match for the country will be a proud moment for me. Yes, there have been ups and downs but looking at my recent (good) form, I will be keen to score some runs in my 50th Test,” said Pujara.

‘Getting injured was very tough’

Speaking of his injuries which forced him to spend a considerable amount of time away from cricket, Pujara termed getting injured the toughest phase of his career.

“Getting injured was the most challenging time of my career. I was out for six months due to a knee injury and then again in 2011 when I was out for another six months. Overall, I wasn’t able to play for a year, which was really tough on me,” Pujara recalled those early days of hardship.

“When you get injured, you need to get that rhythm going for you again as your concentration goes down. Injury was the toughest part of my career but now I have come out of it and I am working hard on my fitness,” he added.

Pujara claims 145* against Sri Lanka in 2015 as a turning point

The incumbent No. 3 lost his position from the Test XI when he failed badly on the overseas tours of England and Australia. Pujara has a tight technique but not been able to score in alien conditions must have been disappointing for this Rajkot born cricketer. It was the tour of Sri Lanka in 2015 that gave his career a second wind. Asked to open in the final Test after missing the first two, Pujara carried his bat scoring an unbeaten 145 which was pivotal in winning the Test and the series for India. Since then, he has got his head down and scored runs in every series.

“When I got a hundred in Sri Lanka, in 2015, everything changed. After that, I think, even in domestic cricket, I have scored some runs. When you start playing domestic cricket and start scoring big runs, you gain a lot of confidence.

“You know what are the changes required in your game and if you have made some changes in your game, then you can try and implement those things in domestic cricket. I think playing domestic cricket did help me,” assessed Pujara.

He gave credit to former India captain Rahul Dravid, who asked him to trust his game during tough times. “There was nothing wrong with my technique because after that I spoke to Rahul (Dravid) Bhai, who just told me that you should continue the way you have been playing. I just trusted my game, worked hard on it and I was just one innings away,” said Pujara.

’92 at Bangalore one of my best’

Pujara rated his match-winning 92 in the recent Border Gavaskar Trophy as one of his best innings of his career. He was stated that the series against the Australia was the toughest one he has been a part of.

“There have been many but I remember a couple of them the first Test hundred against New Zealand at Hyderabad and then 92 against Australia in the recent Test series (at Bangalore). It was a match-winning score and then the entire series turned on its head. It’s the toughest series that I have been a part of,” Pujara conceded.

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