I can’t replace Dravid: Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara said he never felt any pressure when batting at No.3.

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At a press conference on Thursday, the Saurashtra youngster said the preparations helped him counter the New Zealand attack with aplomb.

The following are excerpts:

If he’s satisfied with the showing

Obviously… I’m really happy. It was a dream to start off like this. I wanted to score a hundred on my debut. But somehow I missed it, and so, I am really satisfied that I got my maiden hundred now.

Batting at No.3, the slot vacated by Rahul Dravid

I don’t think I can replace Rahul Dravid because he is a legend... He has more than 10,000 runs in both the formats. It’s impossible to replace him. I just wanted to play my natural game. I wasn’t under any kind of pressure as I had prepared myself for this and I knew what was coming. I think it’s my preparation that has helped me score these runs.

His feelings when walking in at No.3

I knew I could bat at No. 3. So my preparation was up to the mark. I’ve batted at No. 3 for Saurashtra. At times I opened for (my employers) Indian Oil Corporation. So I have enough experience batting up the order.

Getting into the Nervous Nineties

At times you come under pressure, but I think things went really well for me. The wicket was really slow after lunch. We had to wait for a while... The outfield was slow, too. We had to wait for the loose balls. I was happy with the way I paced my innings…

Getting bogged down at 95 for a while

At times it becomes frustrating… You have to have some patience. That’s what Test cricket is all about… I was mentally tough to handle those situations.

The six off Williamson

Even in the domestic format, I have hit many sixes. It’s just the saying that I don’t hit many sixes. My game has been quite aggressive for the last three-four years. It’s just that people say that I’m more suitable to Test format, but I play many shots.

The partnership with Virat Kohli

We had a conversation and he was asking how the ball was doing... Initial plan was to build up the partnership and then capitalise from there.

His eventful journey so far

Once you go through a difficult period, you become mentally tough… The hunger for the game becomes a little more intense. I had twice suffered injuries.

I was out of the game for almost a year. It’s been a frustrating time for me and my family... My father had a bypass surgery… Somewhere in my heart I knew that I would make a comeback in the game I love the most.

If he wants to dedicate this innings to anyone

I would like to dedicate this to my father. He has been working with me since I was a child. Even he had gone through some tough times...He’s still coaching me. So, I’m very thankful to him. I would like to dedicate this to my father and my mother.

His target now

I think the first target is to put on 400 on the board. Individually, if I can score a double hundred that would be great... But the initial target would be to pile up 400.

The India U-19 making the final of the World Cup

I wish them good luck and hope that India wins the final.

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