After batting for 449 minutes, Cheteshwar Pujara could have easily put his feet up and relaxed. But when Karnataka opener Dega Nischal approached him to pick his brain on batting technique, India’s No 3 Test batsman, readily obliged
Bengaluru: Cheteshwar Pujara had called Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium a “special ground” as it was here that he made his Test debut against Australia in 2010. But, eight years later, he was booed and called a “cheater” by Karnataka fans during the Ranji Trophy semi-final on Sunday.
But, that did not stop him from helping a Karnataka youngster with his game.
Pujara, with a gritty knock of 131 not out, took Saurashtra to the Ranji Trophy final with the team defeating the hosts by five wickets on Monday, on the fifth and final day.
Also read: Ian Chappell praises Cheteshwar Pujara
After batting for 449 minutes, Pujara could have easily put his feet up and relaxed. But when Karnataka opener Dega Nischal approached him to pick his brain on batting technique, India’s No 3 Test batsman, readily obliged.
“I had decided to approach him after the game. Once the game finished I went to him. It was a fantastic feeling, as we all know happens whenever a fan meets his idol. It was a superb feeling watching him bat and I want to learn a lot from him,” the 24-year-old Nischal told MyNation about his meeting with Pujara at Chinnaswamy Stadium’s ‘B’ ground.
The interaction between the rookie and the star of India's historic Test series win in Australia lasted about 10 minutes and Nischal emerged enlightened.
“It was a fantastic discussion. I am a big fan of Pujara. I have modelled my batting style around him. He is my favourite cricketer. Obviously when you are playing against him, it is a big honour and I wanted to speak to him regarding my game. It was a fantastic discussion about batting and he taught me a lot of things,” Nischal said.
The Karnataka batsman did not play the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Saurashtra and watched the match from the dressing room.
When asked what the main topic of the discussion was, Nischal said he focused on improving his defence. The youngster hailed Pujara as the “best defence batsman in the world”.
“The most important thing and the only thing which I discussed was the defence. We have similar batting styles. Defence is the most important weapon. Pujara is the best defence batsman in the world. He plays very close to the body, the bat won't go ahead. So, I asked him about that. He told that it takes years of practice and playing a lot of balls (to achieve that defensive technique). And he also told me that it comes with playing with soft hands,” Nischal explained.
“From the past five to six years, I have been watching him and he is my favourite since the time he established himself (as a Test batsman in the Indian team),” he added.
With Pujara taking the game away from Karnataka, Nischal was hoping that his idol would get out early but that did not happen.
“On a personal note, I wanted him to get out,” he said.
On the Ranji Trophy season which ended in Karnataka’s exit in the semi-finals, Nischal felt he could have done better as a batsman, especially in the quarter-final against Rajasthan in which he scored only six and one.
In nine matches in the 2018-19 season, Nischal scored 620 runs from 18 innings at an average of 36.47. He was Karnataka’s second-highest scorer after KV Siddharth (728).
“It has been a good season for me. I have got three hundreds and three fifties. But I felt I could have been more consistent, especially in the quarter-final game against Rajasthan. I should have stepped up. I missed out on a big score. I got runs in the entire league stage but I should have got runs in the knockouts,” he signed off.
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Last Updated 5:34 PM IST