In February, when Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped form the India Test team against Sri Lanka, there were lot of questions marks on whether it was the end of the road for the veteran batter. He had been going through a lean patch for quite some time. However, Pujara made an inspirational comeback to the Indian team after playing from great cricket for his County team Sussex and Ranji team Saurashtra. For Sussex, Pujara scored a double century in his first match and then went on to score another 200-plus score. He also scored two centuries.
Before that County stint, Pujara played three Ranji matches for Saurashtra, and scored 91 in the first of those games against 41-time champions Mumbai. It was from that point, Pujara says he knew “everything was back to normal.”
“It’s about playing as many first-class games as possible and for me I think the experience was very important. Because when you want to get back into form, when you want to find your rhythm, when you want to find your concentration, it’s important to have some long innings. When I was playing for Sussex, once I had the first big knock against Derby then I felt that my rhythm was back. My concentration and everything started falling in place,” Pujara said in a video on BCCI.tv.
“When you want to perform for your team, you need to apply yourself. When you play competitive cricket, you learn so many things. But sometimes you need that experience, you need that time in the middle and that was most important.”
“I was preparing for this even back home. Even before, I joined the Sussex team. I played three Ranji Trophy games for Saurashtra. Even in that, I found my rhythm. I knew that I was batting well. It was about getting a big score under my belt. When I had that in my first game, I knew that everything was back to normal now. I am finding my footwork. My backlift, everything was coming along well. After that, I just wanted to enjoy my game. Try and make sure you contribute to the team’s success. Most important thing is to have a good time on the field.”
The BCCI selection committee has named a 17-member Test squad for the fifth rescheduled Test against England to be played at Edgbaston, Birmingham from July 1-5. India currently lead the Test series 2-1.
India’s Test squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain) Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna
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