Cheteshwar Pujara played a matchwinning knock of 131* against Karnataka to help Saurashtra reach the final of the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, something his captain and friend Jaydev Unadkat is absolutely delighted with.
The highly dependable Indian No.3 flew back home immediately to feature for his domestic side after being awarded "Player-of-the-series" in Australia for his 521 runs at an average of 74.43, including three outstanding tons in Adelaide, Melbourne as well as Sydney. Pujara played a huge role in India clinching its maiden Test series triumph down under.
"Can’t really have anyone better than him to have that influence on the side," Unadkat was quoted as saying by CricketNext, "The way he approached this game, or even the last game, he wants it more than anyone of us. That’s one thing I really love about him."
"Doesn’t really matter what game, what level he’s playing, he just wants to be out there and win it for the team. It’s really showing at the moment how determined he is to win it for Saurashtra."
The skipper further stressed on Pujara's importance and said, "He’s helping me in the field, helping other batsmen on how to approach the game not just in the middle but out of the game as well."
"The guys have been really fortunate to have him in the side. He was guiding the batsmen in the UP game as well and that was one game where we got the confidence. It reflected in this game."
"Even though we were 23 for 3, no one actually was out of belief that we can win this game. It was down to him. The character that he has, the image that he has. We’re lucky to have him in the team for sure."
Saurashtra will be taking on defending champions Vidarbha in the final that kickstarts on February 3 but their veteran fast bowler is confident of winning the prestigious title this time.
"We cannot have better confidence than what we have at the moment. To actually do it twice is down to how determined the guys are to win the title this year. We spoke about it during the league phase and during the first knock-out game as well."
"I kept saying after the last game as well, against UP. When they were 100/1 in the second innings and leading by 340-350 runs, that was the time when we still spoke about it. Even Cheteshwar (Pujara) and I had a word and said, ‘It’s now or never'," Unadkat signed off.