Colombo: Relieved after notching up his first hundred in close to two years, Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday thanked A team coach Rahul Dravid for reassuring him that there was "nothing wrong" with his technique during the prolonged lean patch.
Pujara, who made a grand comeback to the playing XI by scoring an unbeaten 135, had spent quality time with Dravid last month while playing against Australia A in Chennai.
"The best thing came out of Rahul Dravid when I was playing with India A team. He said that there is nothing wrong with my technique. So he told me to keep calm. He watched me bat in the nets and told me that there is a big one coming very soon, maybe in Sri Lanka or even in the India-A game. So that gave me lot of confidence and belief in myself," Pujara told mediapersons at the day end press meet.
"He (Dravid) felt that overall, I was batting really well during England and Australia tours. It's just that I didn't convert the 30s or 40s into a big one. So I decided to stick to what I do and continue playing the way I have been."
Pujara said that he decided to keep things simple today even when wickets fell at the other end.
"I kept things simple. When I went in, I just had to go bat and play my natural game. I thought that if I think about all the stuff that had been happening, that I am not batting at my regular position and this is the last opportunity that might be there and so on, I wouldn't be able to go and perform to the best of my abilities," said the Rajkot-born player.
"I had been working hard. The best thing I needed to do was focus on what I have to do. The plan was very simple - try and rotate the strike and see through the new ball, and once I am set, obviously I could play my shots and build a partnership with other players," he added.
He also praised Amit Mishra for his innings of 59 which helped them conjure up a century stand for the eighth wicket.
"The partnership with Amit Mishra was really important. He batted really well which allowed us to put on 292 on the board at the moment. He faced the second new ball, which was really important because had we lost a wicket then, things would have been very different," he added.
Pujara said that today's century reminded him of his innings against South Africa in Johannesburg back in 2013.
"When I went in, it reminded me of playing in South Africa where I had scored 153 on a tough wicket. I knew that if I played with soft hands, the ball would not carry to the slips. Initially, it was really important. I think Dhammika Prasad bowled brilliantly today. He kept his line. His plan was simple, to bowl on the fourth stump and let the pitch do the work," assessed Pujara.
Pujara said that he tried to play close to his body after watching a few of his teammates getting out playing away from the body.
"I was trying to play close to the body. The main thing I noticed that a few players got out because they played away from the body. That's the thing I tried doing. But the wicket was really challenging and you can't blame the players.
"The first ball KL Rahul got was really difficult. It was difficult to predict whether it is going to come in. It is obviously a difficult wicket but you need to survive and the main thing I did was play close to the body," said the Saurashtra batsman.
The right-hander said that India need to get another 30 to 40 runs before Sri Lanka comes into bat.
"Tomorrow, if we can put on 30 or 40 more runs more on the board, it will be really important for the team. I don't want to think too far ahead about the second innings. Most important thing for us is to get them out as early as possible. We will think later about what's coming next," Pujara signed off.