India's captain Virat Kohli (L) talks to Cheteshwa
India's captain Virat Kohli (L) talks to Cheteshwa

Kohli’s sledge protege says India won’t back down

Virat Kohli's sledge protege Cheteshwar Pujara says India won't change its aggressive mindset or panic at ongoing bowling woes punctuating 70 years without series success in Australia.

Pujara wasn't chirpy in the field until 'learning the tricks of sledging' through skipper Kohli and continually baiting David Warner on Australia's Test tour of the subcontinent last year.

India won't go looking for on-field conflict with Warner and Steve Smith serving ball tampering bans but won't shy away from it.

"When it comes to Indian cricket we will play a brand of cricket we have been playing. Sledging.... I can't say what happens when we start off playing the first Test but one thing we are assured of is playing competitive cricket," said 30-year-old Pujara.

"If it happens it happens but we are not very much focused on it, we want to win the Test and series."

The Cricket Australia XI kept the tourists in the field for 151 overs in amassing 544 at the SCG last week with South Australian keeper-batsman Harry Nielsen making a ton (170 balls).

Harry Nielsen celebrates his century during India v CA XI tour match. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Harry Nielsen celebrates his century during India v CA XI tour match. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Indian players were given the option of resting on Monday but Pujara reconciled the tourists "got enough practice" in Sydney.

Spearhead Ishant Sharma averages 62 over 10 Tests in Australia and took 1-73 in Sydney. Ravi Ashwin's Test bowling average of 54 in Australia showed no signs of abating at the SCG having leaked 2-122 from 40 overs against the CA XI.

"Conceding 500 runs doesn't mean anything, I don't think it was a Test or very much worried about it. The bowlers know what they have to do. Most of our bowlers played here in 2015 and are very confident," said Pujara.

"When it comes to our fast bowling attack this is one of the best we have had for many years."

Off-spinner Ashwin, who has 336 Test wickets at 25 but took just 12 wickets at 48 here four years ago, fronted for an optional net session with coach Ravi Shastri in Adelaide on Monday.

Pujara believes the lessons of Ashwin's 2014-15 tour here and work with English County side Worcestershire - bowling with a higher action and more dip - would prove instructive.

"I think he is a clever bowler, reads the batsman really well and if you see his recent bowling he has made a lot of adjustments which have helped him," said Pujara of Ashwin who has claimed Shaun Marsh four times.

"He has played a lot of cricket in England and played here in 2014-15, knows what to do. He is very confident now."

No.3 batsman Pujara is noted for his powers of concentration and putting a premium on his wicket for a Test average of 49.5. The boy who grew up using mattress cut outs for pads practising with his father says there is no concern at his average of 35 away from India.

India is chasing a maiden series win in Australia to validate its ICC No.1 ranking.

"I don't think there is any pressure as a batting unit, most of our batters are experienced enough," said Pujara.


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