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Pujara transformation a boost for India

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Of all the things that went right in the Test series opener against New Zealand, Cheteshwar Pujara's transformation from an accumulator of runs to a free-scoring batsman when needed must be the most pleasing for India captain Virat Kohli.

In a team blessed with flamboyant strokemakers, Pujara's batting, built on a watertight defence and an unflappable temperament, is almost an anachronism.

India's Test No.3 feels he has no obligation to quench the boundary-thirst of the home fans, shuns the aerial route like a man inflicted with the fear of flying and believes defence is the best offence.

Rather unsurprisingly, the 29-year-old went unsold in the players' auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL), and his strike rate, sitting at under 49 in Tests, led to his exclusion from the third Test against West Indies last month.

First in the domestic Duleep Trophy and now in the first Test against New Zealand, Pujara's batting has been something of a revelation.

"Obviously he's someone who absorbs pressure really well," Kohli said of Pujara whose scores of 62 and 78 came with 50-plus strike rates in both innings.

"After a certain stage in the innings, there comes a time when the team needs a few runs.

"That's where we felt he has enough ability to capitalise. It was just about conveying to him."

Kohli confirmed the team management had a chat with Pujara to fine tune his game.

"We did not want him to go into a shell," Kohli said.

"We want Pujara to bat to his potential. Once he starts scoring runs along with the composure he already has, it becomes very difficult for the opposition to have control on the game."

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