India Test team backbone Cheteshwar Pujara feels that if India wins the upcoming final of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC 2021 Final) against New Zealand then it could breathe a new life into the Test format.
He even said that India winning the final might have the same effect that happened when India won the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa and T20 cricket was launched in a big way in the mainstream. Even the Indian Premier League happened the very next year and now T20 cricket has become the flavor of fans.
Pujara made no bones in admitting that playing the WTC final against New Zealand is a “big deal" for him even though he would try to treat it as another game of cricket.
“Yes of course, I think Test cricket needs to survive and with this WTC Final, it will definitely help. If we win, more young players in India will want to play Test cricket. And overall, even across the world, Test cricket needs to survive and this is a very good way to do it, having this WTC,” said Pujara during the presser.
He also said that since he plays only one form of international cricket i.e. Tests, playing in this World Test Championship final feels like playing in a World Cup final for him.
“Personally, it means a lot as I play just one format (Tests). This is the first time we are playing this WTC Final. As a team, we have worked hard over a period of time. You have to win so many series away and at home. To be at top, it does require a lot of hard work. It’s like a World Cup final in any other format. This is the first time in Test format, but it’s very similar to playing a World Cup final in ODI or T20. As a team we are looking forward to the final," he said.
The India no.3 batsman also agreed with R Ashwin and mentioned that New Zealand will go into this final with an advantage.
“Well, it is (advantage New Zealand). But this is something which we can’t control. It’s been challenging times all over the world because of the pandemic. You can’t have all the luxuries of having extra time for preparation.
The game is still going on, that’s the most important part. For all of us, we are playing the final which is very important. Even if preparation time is less, just maybe it’s a little bit of a disadvantage for us but if you are ready for the challenge, even in not favorable circumstances, you still want to do well," Pujara, who has 6000 plus runs in Tests, said.
While India won’t get any practice matches before the WTC final, they got to play an intra-squad match and Pujara said that most of the bowlers aimed at upping their workload after nearly three weeks of quarantine.
The batsmen also had center wicket match situations as well as net training during each of the days.
“It’s getting back into the rhythm for both batters and bowlers. We have been in quarantine but we started our training and practice. So when we were out there in the middle we wanted to make the most out of it. We also had some practice wickets available even during the practice games.
When you are in the middle, you want to make sure that the things which you’ve been working on in the nets should come along. Even for the bowlers, to get used to the workload, have 14-15 overs in the entire game which is very important preparing for the final,” he added.
Pujara lauded the pace quartet comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav, who now have Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur for company.
“The reason we’ve reached the final is because of our bowling. They have been able to take 20 wickets and they have won so many Tests for us over a period of time. Our pacers are ready for this challenge," Pujara said.