Cheteshwar Pujara recently welcomed a baby girl into his family and despite being snubbed in the IPL auction, secured a place in the English County season for preparing for the upcoming England tour.
CricketNext.com talked to Cheteshwar Pujara about the new addition to his family, the tour to South Africa and comparison of captaincy styles of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
Cheteshwar Pujara said, “To start with, it feels really good to retain the top spot in Test cricket and get the mace. It is something we as a team thrive to do and to be honest, be it under Dhoni or now under Kohli, the motive has always been to win Tests and not just in India, but also overseas. It is true that this team has done really well in Test cricket in the last two seasons, but to be fair, people tend to overlook Dhoni’s contribution as Test captain.”
“India became the No.1 Test team under him (in November 2009). India’s longest stint at the top in Test cricket was from November 2009 to August 2011 under Dhoni. And we are looking to take that forward as a team and for that we need to do well overseas and the win in Wanderers stands us in good stead. To win on a wicket like that meant that the morale of the team reached another level,” he told CricketNext.
When asked to compare both Dhoni and Kohli on their captaincy styles, Pujara said, “Also, talking about the two captains is a bit unfair because Dhoni led for a while and Kohli has just about started off and settling down. Maybe we can do that in some time from now. But yes, it was a pleasure to play under Dhoni and it is no different to be led by Kohli.”
India lost the Test series against South Africa 2-1, but Pujara suggests that it was a close encounter. Pujara said, “Just a matter of a couple of partnerships. Trust me, things would have looked very different had there been just a couple of partnerships. The team played some really good cricket and the bowlers were fantastic. We had them on the mat in Cape Town and again in Centurion, it was the batsmen who failed to stitch partnerships.”
“Yes, it was not the best of ways to get out. But, you have to move on and think about the next game. It was the kind of wicket which I felt I could score on, but the unfortunate thing was to get run out. As a sportsman I just put it behind and started preparing afresh for the third Test,” he said about getting run out in both innings of Centurion Test.
“Sometimes, you just have to grind it out and wait for the right balls. I was pleased with the effort I put in and I feel that the win on that wicket set the ball rolling for the rest of the ODI and T20I series. Wickets like those really make me want to pad up and hit the crease. Those are conditions wherein you need to be on the top of your game both mentally and physically. One good ball and you are back in the hut,” he smiles, when talking about his 53 ball vigil.
“Well, nowadays you do tend to get challenging wickets a lot more and it is only fair. The Indian team had no issues playing on the wickets produced in South Africa. In fact, the county stint with Yorkshire should further help me prepare for the challenges that lie ahead of me when India tours England. The challenges that shall be thrown at us — by James Anderson and boys — is not something we aren’t aware of. This stint in England shall help me prepare for that,” the 30-year-old said.
Pujara was excited about his stint with Yorkshire, “I am really looking forward to it. Playing county cricket means you prepare on wickets where every ball could be the last you face in an innings. The wickets are really challenging and I love challenges. County cricket has improved me as a player and I just want to score as many runs as possible for Yorkshire and prepare for the Test series against England and the road ahead.”