Cheteshwar Pujara's performance with the bat was the foundation on which India's first-ever Test series win in Australia earlier this year was laid.
It's not easy to eclipse Virat Kohli the batsman in a series, but Pujara did exactly the same in Australia as he scored 521 runs in the to help India create history and also took home the Man of the Series trophy.
Most importantly, Pujara achieved all this without fretting too much about his strike rate. Kohli and former coach Anil Kumble in past had discussions with Pujara over the need to increase his scoring rate, but the Saurashtra cricketer stuck to his natural game throughout. In Australia, Pujara faced 1258 deliveries as he batted the opposition out of the contest on multiple occasions.
Now in an interview with the Times of India, Pujara has said that his success in Australia showed to the world that "there are different methods of playing this format."
"People started appreciating the way I was batting, not just the Indian team management. Everyone has realised that there are different methods of playing this format. And because of white ball cricket, there have been players who've been playing many shots ... they've been very aggressive. I still respect that. When talk about intent and strike rate was going on, I just kept believing in myself, in my ability. I actually don't get worried about what people are saying. Sometimes you just need to do the right thing for the team," Pujara said.
On his previous tour to Australia in 2014-15, Pujara scored 201 in three matches at an average of 33.50. In 2018-19 series, he amassed his runs at an average of almost 75. Speaking about the change in batting fortunes, Pujara said his previous experience of playing in Austria and in other overseas tours helped him iron out the faults from his game.
"Once you play in those conditions, you realise the changes that are needed. I made those changes over a period of time. I realized the mistakes I had made and worked hard to overcome whatever technical errors were there. Mentally I was very confident that I would do well because even in 2014, I batted well without getting the big scores," Pujara said.
Pujara said that the knock of 123 which he played in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval was the best knock of his career as it came in a winning cause. Pujara scored 71 in the first innings and 123 in the second as India won the first match by 31 runs to take 1-0 lead in the series.
Speaking about how he was sledged in Australia, Pujara recounted how Nathan Lyon asked him 'aren't you bored of batting now' as he scored 193 off 373 balls in the final Test in Sydney. Staying on the same topic, Pujara said being told, 'now if you don't get out, we'll have to ask for wheelchairs,' while batting during Ranchi against Australia in 2017 was the best sledge he has ever received from any Aussie player.
While Pujara and Kohli are chalk and cheese, the 31-year-old ruled out any personality clash between the two individuals and also added that Kohli is "more than willing to accept" any suggestions that Pujara offers to him.
Pujara added that his cricket has improved a lot because of the experience of playing in County circuit and said white-ball players looking to make a mark in five-day format should try to play in England domestically due to the challenging conditions.
The Saurashtra batsman is also excited about the World Test Championship, which begins next year, and said players have already started discussing various possibilities. Pujara is also confident that Test cricket will survive the test of the time despite the emergence of T20 cricket as it's the "purest format of the game".