Cheteshwar Pujara, who will be playing the IPL after 7 years, has revealed that he wants to follow in the footsteps of non-power-hitters, like Kohli, Smith and Williamson, who have succeeded in their own way. He added that earlier he was wary of changing his technique but now he's open to changes.
As good a player Cheteshwar Pujara has been in Test cricket over the years, he hasn't been able crack T20 cricket yet. His game has been far from suited for the shortest format and in the 22 innings he batted in the IPL, his strike-rate is a poor 99.74. After a hiatus from the cash-rich league since 2014, he's all set to feature in the league again this year.
Now, it came as a major surprise that CSK went for Pujara given there hasn't been much to suggest that he has improved on any aspect of his batting for the format. And there isn't much to suggest that he would get many games with the side that the Yellow Army have got.
However, the Saurashtra batsman isn't leaving any stone unturned and is training hard, working on hitting the big shots, as seen in the videos released on social media. Speaking ahead of the season, Pujara has suggested that he ain't a power-hitter but wants to emulate the likes of Kohli, Smith and Williamson, who have been successful in the shorter formats despite not boasting a power game.
"When it comes to strike rate, yes, I agree that I'm not a power-hitter. But at the same time, you learn from players like Virat (Kohli). Rohit (Sharma), he is not purely a power-hitter, but he is one of the best timers of the ball I have seen in the shorter formats. You learn from players like Kane Williamson. Even Steven Smith. All of them score runs by just playing cricketing shots, and at the same time they will be innovative," Pujara told ESPN Cricinfo.
The senior Indian Test batter feels that cricketing shots can also get runs, and hence wants to use his cricketing sense which he feels is an important aspect.
"I also have that mindset, that if I want to be successful, I also need to be innovative, but at the same time you can still score runs by playing cricket shots. You need to get better at generating power, I won't deny that, but ultimately cricketing sense is what I feel will be your main strength."
In the training videos, Pujara has been seen batting with a high back lift and making changes to his style. The right-hander also revealed that, unlike earlier times, he's no longer resistant to changing his batting style as he now knows his Test game inside out.
"It all comes with experience. When I was playing the T20 format in the past, I had a little bit of a worry that what if my Test cricket gets spoiled? Then there will be some technical error once the IPL gets over. But now I am over that. What I realised over a period of time is my natural game, my strengths, will never go away.
"So if I am playing the T20 format now, when I prepare for a Test series I won't forget Test cricket. Adapting to T20 format and moving into Test cricket again won't be an issue, for sure," Pujara said.
Pujara also stated that the legendary Rahul Dravid advised him to just play different shots than changing his natural game.
"This advice I got from Rahul bhai (Dravid) long ago, but I would still like to mention it. He told me that your natural game will not change although you try playing different shots."
The 33-year-old also reckons that for someone who has done well in Tests, it will be easier to crack the white-ball formats.
"I definitely think so, especially the way the white ball travels. It is just about making the mental change. I feel that mentally if you are ready to make some adjustments, you don't need to take a lot of pressure," he said.
"In Test cricket there is a lot of pressure, there is a price on your wicket. But in the shorter format you just need to express yourself and play all the shots you can."