Cheteshwar Pujara credits Anil Kumble for mentality change

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Cheteshwar Pujara credits Anil Kumble for mentality change

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SportsCafe Desk

12/30/2016

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has claimed that coach Anil Kumble is the main reason for him having an attacking mentality in Test now-a-days. The Saurashtra batsman also added that the England series was not as easy for the Indian team as the eventual scoreline suggested.

Pujara had an average start to the year, considering his high standards, scoring just 62 runs in the West Indies series. In the first two Tests against New Zealand, he got off to good starts going past his half-century on three occasions but was unable to cross the triple-digit barrier. However, he then managed to score three centuries in as many matches. Pujara eventually ended the year with a total score of 836 runs at an immpressive average of 55.73.

"Obviously, him (Kumble) being vastly experienced bowler, a great bowler himself, the bowlers can always pick his brains. But overall, he gives a lot of valuable guidance to the team overall. Like for example, he has explained to me the bowlers’ psychology in general, like how they might respond in a particular phase of the game and what strategies they might employ to bait you," Pujara said in an interview with the Indian Express.

"Unless he spots something really drastically wrong in your batting, he doesn’t talk technique. That he mostly leaves to Sanjay (Bangar) sir. The one thing he told me in the last series against New Zealand was to show a lot more intent in converting my starts."

"At that point, I was getting out after good starts, and he told me that I shouldn’t let the bowlers settle. He pointed out to me that I have been dominating attacks in first-class cricket, and that he sees no reason why I can’t do that to bowlers in Test cricket too. That piece of advice benefited me a lot, and thereafter I have been able to bat with more freedom and scored three hundreds. After my hundred against New Zealand, he came up to me and told me that this is the way I should be playing."

Although India won the England series quite comfortably by a score of 4-0, Pujara said that the series was not as easy as the final scoreline suggests. He even went as far as to claim that the series was as close as the 2013 series where India ended up on the losing side.

"They also played an intense brand of cricket, and most of the matches were closer (than the scorecard suggests). It was perhaps the closest series we had played at home since the series in 2012-13, which we lost to England. Most of us were part of that series, and so we were naturally motivated to put on a really good effort to win the series this time. We were quite disappointed that we couldn’t win the first Test in Rajkot," Pujara said.

"We have played a five-Test series in England the year before, so that prepared us mentally and physically as how to keep ourselves focused in a long series. Probably, this series was more intense than the previous one, but we really enjoyed it. We went out with a positive frame of my mind, right from the first Test and wanted to win all the five Tests."

Like every other player in the team, Pujara reserved special praise for captain Virat Kohli stating that players can learn from his "work ethics and commitment". 

"He is someone who inspires the team by his sheer personality. There are a lot of things we can learn from him, like his work ethics and commitment. Whatever he does, he does it with utmost commitment and passion. He gives it all, whether it’s on the field, gym or the board room," Pujara remarked.

"His aggression rubs on to all of us and we go into every match or session with the belief that we could win. So the team atmosphere is wonderful, everybody wants to contribute, everybody wants to win and there are positive vibes in the dressing room. We have a sense of togetherness about us."

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