Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara wants to expand his range of strokeplay and not just feature, but excel in white-ball cricket for India.
Pujara, who had a legendary tour with the bat in Australia - scoring 521 runs at an average of 74.43, including three outstanding tons, and receiving the "Player-of-the-series" award for his role in India's maiden Test series triumph down under - has played just five ODIs for the country, with the last of them dating way back in 2014 against Bangladesh.
"One-day cricket is something I always look forward to," said Pujara ahead of taking part in the inaugural Saurashtra Premier League T20 tournament from Tuesday (May 14) onwards. "Not just ODIs, but also Twenty20. Recently I scored a hundred in a domestic T20 tournament (against Railways)."
"I am looking forward to playing white ball cricket. I hope I will get the opportunities soon. I am improving and prepared. I am confident of doing well in white ball cricket. Even if you look at some ODI cricketers who have been performing consistently, their style of play is not just to slog."
"They rotate the strike, hit a boundary shot in between and that’s how one builds the team’s total. You need one batsman who can stabilise the innings, especially in overseas conditions," he added.
Though the disappointment of not getting more chances in one-day cricket for India runs deep within, Pujara says it is not something he can or could've controlled. All he can do is play as much domestic List A games as possible, while of course prioritising Test cricket, which to his credit, he has been consistently doing.
"It’s not a thing that I can control. If I was part of the World Cup team, it would have been a proud moment. I am trying to work on my game."
"My performance in domestic tournaments is good. Last year I played one-day matches for my County team. I did exceptionally well. But it’s all about what the team wants and where I fit in."
While the last season was quite hectic with tours to South Africa, England and Australia taking place simultaneously, this year Pujara hasn't played for India in five months and the next Test series in the Caribbean is still a long way away.
"You have to keep playing the game, but sometimes it’s important to take a break. I have played some matches in the Chennai league (for Take Solutions) and was to play in County cricket. I have been training and practising and trying to find the right balance."
"Before the IPL, there was an off-season in cricket, there is nothing wrong with that. If there are no Test matches, all I can do is wait. I have played the Ranji Trophy, but even the domestic season is over," he concluded.
(Inputs from Sportstar)