Dugout was tense: Pujara

RCB batsman talks about the atmosphere in team’s camp during PWI game

Bengaluru 18 April 2012
When Chris Gayle was tearing through the Pune Warriors India bowlers, the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s change room was oozing with nervousness. They were chasing 182 and Gayle was their only hope, or so they thought. When the West Indian dasher got out after a breathtaking 48-ball 81 – which included five consecutive sixes in an over – the tension grew. But AB de Villiers turned on the heat with an entertaining 14-ball cameo of 33 runs. Eventually, Saurabh Tiwary sealed the game with a six.

After the match, the members of the RCB camp, who watched the game from the sidelines, looked as exhausted and thrilled as the men who took field. Cheteshwar Pujara was one of them. Post RCB’s stunning six-wicket win, Pujara spoke to about the atmosphere in the dressing room during this humdinger of a run-chase.

What was the mood like in the dressing room before going into the second innings?

We were quite confident as we have very good players like Chris Gayle and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan upfront. We have Mayank [Agarwal] who is doing pretty well and Virat Kohli also. The atmosphere was good because we were quite positive about the chase.

When Chris Gayle hit the five consecutive sixes, what was the reaction in the dugout?

We were all tense when he gets started. We just wanted him to keep going. I think he could have hit six sixes rather than five, but the first ball went for a single. I think he batted superbly.

What was the logic behind sending Saurabh Tiwari up the order before AB de Villiers?

I think it was the right and left-hand combination. PWI have right-arm leg-spinners, so it gets easy for a left-handed batsman to score against them.

Would you fancy the shots AB de Villiers was hitting – those reverse sweeps?

I would love to, but it’s not easy to hit those shots. The way AB and Saurabh Tiwari scored 20-odd runs off the last over was amazing. We could feel the tension in the dugout and the way they chased down the target was amazing.

How did you bounce back after losing three out of the first four matches? What was said in the dressing room?

We have done this in the past. If you see the last IPL, we lost three out of our first four games and bounced back from there. That gave us the confidence and we knew that we could do it again. The kind of players we have in the side, even 200 was chaseable. And being last year’s runners-up, we knew that we have to qualify for the playoffs.

Anything in particular that the captain or the coach told the team that pushed the players to produce such a performance?

I can’t point out anything in particular. But being professional cricketers, we all felt that we had to win this game. We lost many games because we weren’t playing to our potential. There was a different kind of energy in the team and we believed in ourselves to pull this game through.

Batting in the longer format is your strength, and you’ve recently said that you’re working on your attacking game to suit the shorter formats. How has having the likes of Gayle and de Villiers around helped you in that regard?

I have been talking to them. Last season, I got injured and lost my rhythm. After coming back from injury, I first worked on my fielding initially to avoid any further injuries. Regarding my batting, I have been talking to Rahul Dravid, and he believes that if you have a good technique, you can play all formats of the game. In T20 format, you don’t get enough time to get set; you have to be ready from the first ball onwards, so I am working on it. And there is nothing in particular that I remember learning from Chris Gayle or AB, but I would love to be as powerful as Chris.
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