Cheteshwar Pujara, has been restricted to playing only the Test matches for India. Even though he has proven to be a consistent performer for India in the longest format of the game, Pujara wants to represent India in the limited-overs format too. Pujara last played an ODI way back in 2014, but he is still hopeful of playing white-ball cricket for India. The often referred ‘Test specialist’ believes that his preparation sometimes lags behind most of his teammates. As they have been playing the ODI and T20I formats regularly.
No match practice for Cheteshwar Pujara:
India had last played Test cricket against New Zealand in early 2019. Post which there was no sporting action as the pandemic had enforced lockdown in India for around four months. The IPL was the first tournament when the Indian team started playing cricket in September-November. Thereafter they played six white-ball matches before the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Unlike his peers, Cheteshwar Pujara found himself playing competitive cricket after a 10-month break. He had to directly face the music in the longest format without any sort of match practice.
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India’s 2020-21 domestic season didn’t commence until January 10 this year and this didn’t help Pujara’s cause either. Before the high-octane four-Test series, Cheteshwar Pujara had managed to play only the first tour game against Australia A, where he managed to score 54 in the first innings and got out for a duck in the second innings. This lack of match practise severely hampered Pujara in the Test series but he slowly clawed his way back to make telling contributions in the 3rd and 4th Test.
It was his resilience on which the foundation of an Indian win was built in Brisbane. The entire nation acknowledged Pujara’s grit, courage, and determination. But to quote Pujara he feels that if he had gotten match practise just like his other teammates, he could have gotten into his groove much earlier.
Pujara aims to play the white ball format too:
Pujara in an interview with Sports Today stated that, “I still have aspirations to play white-ball cricket for Team India, there’s no doubt about that. Yes, at the same time, it becomes difficult when other guys are getting some match practice. After the lockdown, I didn’t have any match practice before the Australia tour so to prepare for that big series it became a little difficult.” He went on to add that, “Otherwise if there was no COVID, then there would have been some first-class games which I would have played. But because of the COVID lockdown, there were not many first-class games which I could play.”
Pujara also credited the Australian team for making specific plans for him which made run-making bit difficult for the Test superstar. He opined that, “Credit also goes to the Australian team because they did a lot of homework on what I did in the last series there. It wasn’t easy to break that game-plan, but after a couple of Test matches, I found my rhythm, concentration back, I trusted what I was doing and I was able to score in the last two Tests.”
The curious case of being Cheteshwar Pujara:
One has got to feel for India’s Test batting stalwart, as he hardly gets a chance to express himself in the limited-overs. This denies him an opportunity to be match ready at any given time. But Pujara as always has taken this in his stride and helped the Indian team orchestrate a famous series win over Australia in their backyard.