Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara admitted that he was under pressure to score runs and credited his county stints for providing him the confidence to bat in English conditions and overturn his poor form during the third Test in Nottingham. (DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS)
Pujara scored 72 runs and added 113 runs with skipper Virat Kohli as India piled on 352/7 (decl) and set an imposing 521-run target for England to win the third Test.
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"Playing County cricket did help me. I've learnt a lot. Although I didn't score too many runs in County cricket but I was playing on challenging pitches. I think I was always confident," said Pujara.
"I always felt that I was batting well especially in the nets, especially the way I was timing the ball. I was very confident that I was up for a big one.
"The way I batted in this innings, I felt that whatever I was working on in the nets, it came along. Really pleased to score those 72 runs, valuable 72 runs for the team," he added.
Pujara overcame a poor run of form wherein he averaged 14.66 in the past nine innings, with his last half-century coming in Johannesburg on a green-top against South Africa.
The batsman said he did feel pressure because of that poor form.
"Yes (I did feel pressure). To be honest there is always some pressure especially when you have not scored too many runs. Even as a team as a batting unit, before this Test match, collectively we hadn't scored too many runs," he said.
"It was important all our top-order starts scoring runs, especially in this Test match. The way our opening batsmen batted in first innings and second innings, I think lot of credit goes to them because sometimes it's not about scoring big 50s or 100s.
"If they score 30 or 40 runs it is quite valuable for the team. I think both innings we got off to more than 50 runs without losing any wicket which is always important," he said.
Talking about his recent run-outs and poor shot selections, Pujara said, "Sometimes if you are playing this game, there will be different modes of dismissals. I am not too concerned about them. The important thing today is the way we batted as a unit and the number of runs we scored.
"And we are very well balanced in this Test match. We are looking forward to tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened in the past or the way our batsmen got out. We should be really happy with the amount of runs we have."
Pujara said one needs to trusts one's technique to score runs in this conditions.
"You just need to trust your technique, your temperament and be confident about how you know to play in such condition," he said.
"Ultimately wherever you go, especially for all the Indian batsmen when we play away from home, whether in England, South Africa or Australia or New Zealand, I think we just need to trust our technique.
"Everyone has a different technique, and everyone has a way to play. We just need to play the way we know as a batsman."
The 30-year-old also credited his partner after Kohli scored his 23rd Test hundred during India's second innings on Monday.
"He batted brilliantly. He has been batting well since the first Test match. He is in good touch and is making the most of it. Some shots that he is playing on this pitch are very difficult for any other batsman to execute and that shows he is in good form and batting really well," he said.
Pujara said they had a clear game plan against James Anderson when he and Kohli started batting on day three.
"Anderson is a great bowler no doubt but facing him in 2014 in similar conditions has helped me. I knew what areas he bowls in and what should be my game plan. I was clear with my game plan. I think facing him in the past helped me because I've played him even in Indian conditions," he said.
"It's always challenging to bat against them. But the way we had our partnership, especially in the first session, I think we knew what we wanted to do. You just have to respect the conditions and the way they bowled. We had our game plan and we stuck to it. I think we won that session," he added.
England played out nine overs last evening, but now face six sessions to bat and save this third Test and prevent India from making a comeback in this five-match series.
"There is enough help for the fast bowlers. In the first session we saw a number of deliveries rose and many balls also stayed low. But the way we bowled in the first innings, if we bowl like that we have a good chance of bowling them out tomorrow," Pujara signed off.