Kohli urges Pujara not to ‘go into his shell’

India number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has been urged to up his strike rate and not go on the defensive, skipper Virat Kohli revealed after winning the first Test against New Zealand.

Pujara, who burst onto the scene with a string of centuries a few years ago, has struggled a bit this year to find big scores, and Kohli was pleased to see that the advice dished out in the West Indies showed results in Kanpur.

Pujara made scores of 62 and 78 in the victory, batting much quicker than he did before he was dropped in the Caribbean last month. Kohli was glad to see this return to form.

Kohli said: “Pujara is someone who absorbs the pressure really well but after a certain stage in the innings there comes a time when the team needs runs.

“That’s where we felt that he has the ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying that to him. He has worked hard on his game.

“He scored at a good strike rate in the Duleep Trophy. Even on this wicket he was scoring at 65, almost 70 strike rate.

“Which for me was a revelation, to see Pujara bat that way. Because he used to bat that way initially. Especially at home.

“If you see his double-hundreds against England and Australia, he will dominate spinners. That’s exactly what we wanted him to do. We didn’t want him to go into a shell. We want Pujara to bat to his potential.

“Once he starts scoring runs to go with the composure he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control of the game. That’s all we wanted to convey to him.

“He’s someone who understands what the team wants. He has worked hard on his game. He has come back, and he is playing more positively. Which we appreciate as a team and me personally as a captain.

“That he has actually gone and worked hard on his game. He has not told us ‘this is my comfort zone and I am not going to get out of it’. That is the kind of characters we need to win games and series.”

The second Test starts on 30 September in Kolkata.