Kanpur, Sep 26: Indian captain Virat Kohli today (September 26) revealed that Cheteshwar Pujara was told to improve his strike rate and was happy that the number three batsman succeeded in the team's 500th Test.
On the recent tour to the Caribbean islands, Pujara was dropped from the Test team for his slow batting and was replaced by Rohit Sharma. Kohli himself had promoted to bat at number three. (Photo gallery)
However, in the 1st Test against New Zealand, which concluded on Monday at Kanpur's Green Park Stadium, 28-year-old Pujara scored 62 and 78 with strike rates above 50. He took 109 balls for 62 and faced 152 deliveries for 72. (Pujara important for us: Kumble)
In the West Indies, the right-hander struggled to 16 off 67 balls and took 159 balls for 67 in the first and second Tests respectively. (Pictures - Indian team celebrates win in Kanpur)
Ahead of the New Zealand series, Pujara made his intentions clear, when he slammed 166 off 280 balls and 256 off 363 in the Duleep Trophy for India Blue.
After India's crushing 197-run victory over the Kiwis, Kohli was asked whether Pujara was told to change his approach to batting and the skipper revealed that the message was indeed "conveyed" to him.
"He (Pujara) is someone who absorbs the pressure really well but after a certain stage in the innings there comes a time when the team needs few runs in those situations. That's where we felt that he has the ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying that to him. He has worked hard on his game," Kohli told reporters after the 1st Test.
He continued, "He scored at a good strike rate in the Duleep trophy. Even on this wicket he was scoring at 65, almost 70 strike rate, which for me was a revelation to see Pujara bat that way."
Kohli said Pujara had worked hard on his batting and was playing more positively.
"If you see his double hundred knocks against England and Australia, he will dominate spinners. That's exactly what we wanted him (Pujara) to do. We didn't want him to go into a shell. We want Pujara to bat to his potential. Once he starts scoring runs to go with the composure he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control of the game.
"And that is all we wanted to convey to him. He is again someone who understands what the team wants. He has worked hard on his game. And he has comeback and is playing more positively. We as a team and personally as a captain really appreciate that. He has not told us this is my comfort zone and I am not going to get out of it. That is the kind of characters we need to win games and series," Kohli added.