Unmoved by criticism, Pujara happy to be India's rock

·2-min read
England v India - Fourth Test

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Batsman Cheteshwar Pujara came in for criticism for his low strike rate in Australia but India's top order bulwark has no intention of changing his game since his stubborn style has the backing of his team mates and management.

Built around a compact defence and Zen-like poise, Pujara's batting was one of the key factors in India's epic 2-1 series victory in Australia earlier this month.

He totalled 271 runs with a strike rate of 29.2 but more importantly faced 928 balls -- the most of any batsman in the four-test series.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting was critical of Pujara's strike rate during the third test in Sydney but the test specialist was unmoved.

"They've the right to say what they feel like. But I feel that I'm doing a job for my team and I know what's best for the team and myself," the number three told the Times of India.

"If I have a gameplan, and if it's helping me and the team, then I just need to stick to that."

Pujara battled like a gladiator on the final day of the Brisbane decider, taking 11 blows to the body in compiling a fighting fifty.

In a low-scoring series only three batsmen -- Australian duo Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, and India's stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane -- managed centuries.

Pujara said neither Rahane nor head coach Ravi Shastri had asked him to score faster.

"Both backed me completely," he added.

"There was not a single time when they asked me to play faster. They always told me: 'You play your natural game. Don't think or worry about anything.'"

India next play a four-test series against England beginning in Chennai on Feb. 5.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)