Chennai: Cheteshwar Pujara's 93-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar rescued India from a precarious position on the second afternoon of the Chennai Test. But unlike the England series, which he began with two big hundreds, Pujara failed to convert a start, bowled by a James Pattinson off-cutter when he had made 44. Virat Kohli and Tendulkar took India through to stumps without further damage, but the manner of his dismissal clearly rankled with Pujara.
"I was set and things were going smoothly for us, but unfortunately I got out at the wrong time," said Pujara after the day's play. "But still, we're in a good position and I'm happy that I contributed at the right time."
The delivery that dismissed him also kept a touch low, but Pujara said such variations in bounce were hardly surprising for those who have played cricket in India. "On Indian wickets, you expect this," he said. "At times, you get extra bounce and at times the ball stays a bit low. But we're used to it and it's not a big problem for us.
"It kept a little low, but I was a little late on the ball. I couldn't sight the ball after it had come halfway, so I was a little late."
Pujara's task was made easier by the start that Tendulkar made, taking three fours off the first four deliveries he faced from Pattinson. "When Sachin paaji came in to bat, from the first ball onwards he was on the mark," said Pujara. "He got three boundaries in the first over. So he was looking positive. I thought that I haven't seen him with such a positive mindset. It was a pleasure watching him. It was very important for us to build a partnership because we were 12 for 2. That partnership was very crucial to set up a big total.
"During the partnership, we were talking about how the ball was going. When the reverse swing started, we were communicating how a particular bowler was going for an inswinger or an outswinger. Communication was really important when we were batting."
Australia's bowlers had an uneven day. Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Moises Henriques and Nathan Lyon got through 46 overs without any reward, while Pattinson's six overs fetched him three wickets, all bowled. "So far, I think Pattinson was the best [of the bowlers]," said Pujara. "They were getting reverse swing but we were prepared for it. We know that their strength is fast bowling, and that they'd be relying mostly on reverse swing because in Indian conditions there is not much seam movement. They were trying to get the ball old as early as possible, and get the reverse swing."
Understandably, his comment about Tendulkar being as positive as he had ever seen him was probed further. He explained that it wasn't too different from his approach to the England series. "I've seen him bat in the nets, the way he was timing the ball was different," said Pujara. "I've seen him in the England series in the nets. Unfortunately, he didn't get runs in the matches, but the way he was batting in the nets there was nothing wrong. He was timing the ball well. Before this series, at the camp in Bangalore, the way he was batting, it was a pleasure to watch."
Story first published on: Saturday, 23 February 2013 19:29 IST