Having gone unsold at the IPL auction in January 2018, India's seasoned Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara had opted to play in the English County Championship for Yorkshire. At that point in time, Pujara had mentioned that he will use his stint to prepare for the five-Test series in England.
Pujara might not have taken the county circuit by storm but he has studied the conditions to get ready for the England Test series. However, he was astonishingly snubbed from India’s playing XI for the first Test against at Edgbaston. Under pressure to perform in the second Test at Lord’s, Pujara was run out in the first innings for 1 while he made 17 runs in the second dig.
Things finally turned for Pujara in the Nottingham Test. The gutsy right-hander played a patient knock of 72 in the second innings to help India set a target of 521 for England in the fourth innings.
Some Indian fans might be surprised to see Pujara’s improved game in the third Test but his Yorkshire team-mates aren’t.
“One of the nicest blokes I have ever met. He might not have got the runs for us at Yorkshire but he worked so bloody hard. The hours he would put in nets was insane, actually. It all had to come to help him now, isn’t it?” Yorkshire’s young fast bowler Ben Coad told The Indian Express when he was asked about Pujara.
“Not that I was getting his wickets too many times in the nets before that, but I would say he did get better as the time went along,” he added.
During his county stint with Yorkshire, Pujara used to play football and after scoring a goal once he had tears of joy in his eyes.
“He liked playing the football but he wasn’t particularly good at it to be honest. But he would keep playing. Finally, one day he scored a goal and he looked so delighted I thought there could be some tears here! That probably was the funniest moment that I can think of. Just the joy from a man who seemed well composed most times,” Coad recalled.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s teammates at Yorkshire couldn’t pronounce his first name and thus they started calling him Steve.
“Yes, Steve. There wasn’t any nickname but Steve was what some of us called him in jest. Puj would also carefully select some real nice vegetarian restaurents and would take us there for dinners,” Ben Coad concluded.