A knee injury had kept him on the sidelines, but the moment he was deemed fit to play, Pujara returned to his run-scoring ways. During his first game for RCB this season, he was one half of a right-left opening combination with Chris Gayle.
While the two batters differ in their technique and approach, Pujara seemed comfortable complementing Gayle’s big hits with his characteristic textbook shots. As a result, he was able to bring up a timely half-century against Kings XI Punjab in his first innings of IPL 2013.
In an exclusive interview with IPLT20.com, Pujara talked about the advantage of having natural big-hitters like Gayle and AB de Villers on his side. He also talked about getting into Twenty20 mode after playing Test cricket.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
On his first IPL half-century
It is a great feeling to get a half-century. I was a bit shaky at the start of the innings. But once I settled down, I could play my natural shots.
I was working hard at the NCA (National Cricket Academy) for my recovery, and I even worked on my batting and fielding. It is paying off now. So, I am really happy about it.
On opening with a hard-hitter like Chris Gayle
As an opener I feel really comfortable because of the way he hits the ball. I don’t have to be under pressure of scoring quick runs. And even seeing him from the non-striker’s end – the way he is hitting the ball – it is incredible.
On switching from Tests to Twenty20 cricket
I think ultimately the basic technique has to be there even when you want to accelerate. But I think it is about shifting gears at the right moment, and I was able to do it (against KXIP in Mohali). It is about just doing it in the nets. My basic technique is the same, and it is just about making little adjustments in the game.
On playing under a young captain like Virat Kohli
He is really supportive. He himself is a good batsman and a good fielder. So, there are many things to learn from him and he is a good colleague as well. When I was in the Indian team, I was enjoying his company. And now being part of RCB it is a great feeling.
Whether playing with big-hitters like Gayle, de Villiers, etc gives him the flexibility to play his natural game
Yes definitely. It takes away some of the pressure and so I can play my natural game. So, I can take more time, than what is expected in Twenty20, to settle down and then start playing my shots.
Basically, it gives you extra luxury to have batsmen like these in the side. The kind of batsmen they are, they can win a game from any situation.
Whether Rahul Dravid is an inspiration for a technically sound batter like him to do well in Twenty20
I have been following Rahul Dravid since my childhood and he is one of the batsmen I look up to. So, the way he is batting at the moment – and even in the past – it is always inspiring.