Cheteshwar Pujara was picked in the auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 by the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at his base price. Now, the batsman has thanked the franchise but stated that his focus will only be on taking one game at a time and leading India to the World Test Championship (WTC) Final against New Zealand which will take place in June at the Lord’s Cricket Ground.
The series against England is now locked at 1-1 and India will have to win the series to make it through to the final. The next two tests will take place in Ahmedabad with the third test being a day/night one as well. There has been a lot of speculation regarding the pitch that would be put out and also the pitch in the previous test in Chennai but Pujara was quick to dismiss concerns on the same.
‘Great to be a part of the IPL’ – Cheteshwar Pujara
Pujara spoke in a virtual press conference upon reaching Ahmedabad for the third test and spoke about his selection in the IPL. “First of all, I am really glad to be a part of the IPL, it is good to be back again. I would like to thank the CSK team for picking me, but at the same time, when I am talking about county cricket, I still think I will have enough time before we play England in England. Once IPL gets over, there will be a window for me to play county games. That call I will take once IPL gets over. There will be enough time to play some county games. We also have a couple of practice games in England once the Test series begins there,” he said.
“There is plenty of time to play county cricket but it is good to be back in the IPL. You know, I always want to play the short format of the game, IPL has produced so many great cricketers, some young talent we have got through the IPL, it has helped the Indian team. My focus once this Test series gets over will be on the IPL and once IPL gets over, I will think about county games and then there is a big series coming up against England. I am very hopeful that we will play the World Test Championship final as well which is in June,” he added.
Stressing further on the fact that he will take it one game at a time, the seasoned campaigner said, “One thing at a time and right now, my focus is on the next two Tests. Both these Tests are important for us to qualify for the finals of the WTC. One game at a time, I think the pink-ball Test is very important, I am focusing on that.”
‘It was not a dangerous pitch’ – Pujara on second test pitch
Pujara then addressed concerns regarding the pitch for the second test and said, “Sometimes you know when you are playing on a turning track, you find it difficult but at the same time, it was not a dangerous pitch at all. When the ball spins you know people find it difficult to score runs, especially the overseas teams. When we go overseas and we play on seaming tracks, the game finishes in three or four days. We still have to play on such wickets where there is a lot of grass or seam movement.”
“In turning tracks, one cannot define how much the ball can spin. It is a very thin line in that way. I do not think it was a bad pitch, it always becomes difficult in the second innings, this is how it is. When we play in Australia, there are cracks on day four and five, it is a little dangerous, the oddball hits the crack and it might take off. As a team I do not think we had any issues, once opposition teams start playing more on these pitches, they will be fine,” he added.
Speaking about the upcoming third test, Pujara said, “We have played just one day-night game in India and it was with the SG ball. Domestic games which I have played were with the kookaburra ball. To be honest, it is difficult to predict whether you can keep the grass cover. It is an important game for us to qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship, we will try to focus on the game.”
“Even I have played so many Tests, but with the pink ball, I also don’t have much experience. I do not think experience matters a lot when you are playing the one-off game with the pink-ball in a series. As we keep playing more, we will get used to it. It is just Test cricket, we will have to play normal cricket. As a team, we have certain goals as a batting and bowling unit, we will stick to them. The next two Tests are very important for us, we will like to stick to our game plans,” he added.
Pujara then called the Motera Stadium a ‘beautiful’ one and said, “It is a new stadium and pitch. Once we play more games here, we will get to know about the pitch. It is a beautiful stadium, we all are enjoying it here. We had a gym session yesterday and we had a net session today. I played in Ahmedabad in 2012, I have fond memories of playing against England here. We are looking forward to this Test,” before signing off.