Melbourne: Cheteshwar Pujara is not known to score at a fast clip but the slowness of the MCG track was something that bogged down even India's dogged No 3 during the first innings of the third Test against Australia.
"We have to bat like the way the wicket is behaving and what the situation is. On this pitch, every batsman has to play a lot of balls to score runs. If it were a different wicket, maybe I would have scored 140-150 after playing so many deliveries. But in Test cricket, it is important to read both situation and pitch when batting," Pujara, who scored 106 off 319 balls in India's first innings total of 443/7, said.
Pujara admitted that the pitch is extremely difficult to bat on and the runs put on board are good enough to challenge Australia.
"It is a tough pitch to score on. If we look at first two days, the number of runs scored are very less and in a way, I would say that 200 in a day is a tough task, so I think we have enough runs on the board," said Pujara.
The variable bounce will cause problems for Australia, feels the Saurashtra batsman, who himself got a delivery that kept low after pitching.
"As batsmen, there are always doubts when playing on such pitches and the ball which I got out to, I couldn't have done anything about that. So if it stays low, you have limited options, Pujara explained.
"As we saw today, the pitch has already started deteriorating and has a variable bounce on it. When I was batting yesterday and today I felt there was a difference.
"So I don't think it's easier to bat now. From tomorrow onwards, I think it will get difficult to bat and our bowlers have been bowling well, so I think we have enough runs on the board.
"As a batsman, it is tough to get used to this pace, you will get a slower one, and one odd ball kicks up. I got hit on my finger 3-4 times. Those were not short balls. They were back of length and I got hit on my gloves."
However low bounce didn't affect Pujara.
"Low bounce didn't affect me a lot because I always trusted the bounce on this pitch. But when you have variable bounce it becomes difficult. Pat Cummins is a fantastic bowler and throughout the series he has bowled well.
"He always uses variation in bounce, he has done even in India, and he tries to bowl cross seam in between. I don't think it was particularly for my wicket. But I think bowling cross seam is obviously helping him (Cummins)," Pujara praised the fast bowler.
Pujara put on 170 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli who got out for 82.
The skipper had complained of a back issue, but the centurion said it didn't seem serious. He also added that whilst enjoying the big partnership with Kohli, it was key to India's tall score.
"He is such a great timer of the ball. His straight drive struck me the most, especially in this innings. The way he was hitting the ball, when I was standing at the non-striker's end, I could see his full face. That is one shot I really enjoyed watching," he said.
Further, Pujara added that there has been no conscious effort to silence critics who have panned him for his underwhelming performance Down Under in 2014.
"When I play international cricket, I don't need to silence anyone. I just need to keep scoring runs and that is what I love to do. I don't want to get into all such things. My job is to score runs and I will keep scoring runs, whether it is home or away," he said.
However, he accepted that once a player starts winning games for his country, even the critics can be kept at bay.
"Sometimes you do get criticised and you just have to accept it. But if you keep scoring runs and if India keeps winning, ultimately everybody is happy," Pujara said.
The right-handed batsman said that he had learnt from his mistakes from 2014 where he got only one half-century in Brisbane.
"When you play international cricket, experience makes a lot of difference. 2014 was my first tour to Australia. I had started off well. It was at Brisbane where I got a half-century. Overall I was batting well. I was getting out in the 30s and 40s. It wasn't as if I was unable to play here.
"But it wasn't a tour where I scored many runs. I learnt from my mistakes. After playing those matches, I knew what to expect here. That tour has helped me score hundreds this time," he said.
With two hundreds and a half-century, Pujara is currently leading the batting charts with 328 runs from five innings.
"It has been a good tour personally but the biggest thing is that this Test match is very important for us the way this series is pegged at 1-1. Everyone knows that the result of this Test is very important but at the same time we will focus on our game plan. My batting (form) has been good but it is also important to get 20 wickets," he added.
Pujara termed Melbourne hundred as an "important knock" while rating the Adelaide ton as a "special knock" since it came in a winning cause.
"It is always good to score runs away from home. With the way this series is placed, I think this is an important knock. At the start of the series, the first hundred was really special because it helped us win the match. I hope the amount of runs we have we will be able to win this one as well. When you score a hundred in a winning cause, it makes the hundred really special," he said.
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