India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Thursday revealed how Australia’s overconfidence might have cost them the 2017 Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India. In a four-Test series, Australia hammered India by 333 in the first Test in Pune with left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe claiming 12 wickets in the match. In the second Test, Nathan Lyon seemed to be troubling India in the second innings, restricting them to 120 for 4 before Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane bailed the team with a century-partnership. Also Read - Aaron Finch Dismisses Michael Clarke's Controversial Claim, Says Test Series vs India Was Played in 'Right Spirit'
Looking back at the match, Pujara explained how Australia tried to get under his skin, and were oddly behaving as if they’d already reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Also Read - India to Start Australia Test Series on Dec 3 in Brisbane: Reports
“For me I think the first Test match… when we lost, all of us sat together and had a chat. In a 4-Test series, it’s always difficult to make a comeback after being 1-0 down,” Pujara said in an interaction with R Ashwin on Instagram Live. “In the 1st innings (Bengaluru Test), we didn’t bat well. So when I was walking into it, I felt a lot of pressure. But after the 1st innings, Anil bhai (Kumble) had a chat with me on how to tackle Nathan Lyon. I went to the NCA and worked on a few things which helped me. Also Read - Shane Warne Issues Warning to Cricket Australia, Expresses Concerns Over Spin Bowling Stocks Going Downhill in Down Under
The Bengaluru Test didn’t start on the brightest of notes for the Indian team as they were bowled out for 189 with KL Rahul’s 90 being the top score, and Lyon grabbing a career-best 8/50. In reply, Ashwin finished with 6/63, dismissing Australia for 276. Still 87 runs behind, Pujara and Rahane added 138 runs with both scoring half-centuries, before India managed 274, setting Australia 188. Ashwin took another six-for in the second innings to bundle Australia out for 112 and India a 75-run win.
“I felt pressure when I walked into bat (2nd innings). The kind of sledging they did… I thought they were a little ahead of what they wanted to achieve. Their thought process was… they felt they had already won the game,” Pujara said. “By Tea time, I was with Ajinkya (Rahane), we were coming into the dressing room and they were sledging as if they had won the game. That is when things did turn around, I felt.”
The third Test in Ranchi ended in a draw and India won the series 2-1 with an eight-wicket win in the final Test at Dharamsala. Pujara was the highest scorer for India and second-highest of series with 405 runs at an average of 57.88, behind Steve Smith, who finished the series with 499 runs, including three centuries.