India’s middle-order mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara was phenomenal when India toured Australia in 2018-19; halfway through Australia’s tour this season, he looked a pale shadow of his former self. However, as the business end approached, Pujara looked a different guy altogether. Gusting it out in the middle, he took severe blows from the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood. One can easily praise Rishabh Pant for his match-winning knock in Brisbane, but Pujara’s valiant fifty was equally responsible for India’s heroics at the Gabba. All these qualities make Pujara a terrific Test match cricketer. But the 33 year old hasn’t given up on ODI plans despite representing India in just five ODIs, not to mention that his last ODI appearance came on August 1, 2013.
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“I still have aspirations to play white-ball cricket for Team India, there’s no doubt about that,” Pujara told Boria Majumdar on Sports Today’s Youtube Channel. Meanwhile he confessed that not being part of India’s limited-over sides and not featuring in IPL regularly left him short on match practice as India geared up for Australia tour.”Yes, at the same time it becomes difficult when other guys are getting some match practice,” he said referring to his colleagues’ appearance in IPL 2020 in UAE.
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“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. 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 FC games which I could play. I only played 1 game (warm-up match) before the Test series started so as a batter it was difficult to gain the rhythm, concentration. Early on it was difficult but as I started playing few more games, it took me a couple of Test matches to find the right way (to bat in Australia),” he added.
Pujara also praised the Aussie bowling unit for keeping him on his toes. He was caught-behind 5 times out of the 8 innings during the series.
“Credit also goes to the Australian team because they did a lot of homework on what I did on the last series there. It wasn’t easy to break that gameplan 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 runs in the last two Tests,” Pujara said.