As India was playing West Indies in the semifinal of the World T20, Cheteshwar Pujara won a match in a local tournament, a long train ride away from Wankhede Stadium. As India bowed out, Pujara was backing his capabilities to make a comeback to the team.
“I believe I am capable of playing in ODI and T20 format. I think it is a matter of time, Pujara said. “At the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, I scored at a high strike-rate. With more practice I am bound to improve. Plus, I have been in tournaments where players such as Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Pravin Tamble play.”
Having scored 232 runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, Saurashtra’s top batsman was heartbroken over his side’s loss in the Ranji final to Mumbai.
“Overall we played good cricket...we all know the game changed when we dropped catches. Mumbai had the experienced players...our team is still young. The players felt the pressure of playing a final,” he said.
Looking ahead, the right-handed batsman is looking forward to the Test series against West Indies, since he hasn’t been picked in an IPL franchise for the second consecutive year. “If I haven’t been picked...I can’t do much about it. In such situations I can only improve my game,” said Pujara.
He also feels lack of opportunities have cost him.
“I have been a very good ODI batsman. You can look at the domestic record and the India A matches that I have played... but I haven’t got exposure at the international level. I have played just five ODIs and most of them were overseas. The wickets were difficult to bat on. Two were against Bangladesh where none of the other batsmen scored even a 50.”
However, Pujara did hint at playing county cricket again before the West Indies tour in July. “If I get a chance I might go play some county matches... nothing is finalised and is still a work in progress,” said the former Derbyshire and Yorkshire player.
Talking about the shots being played in the World T20 this time, Pujara feels technique matters most. “The greats have always suggested you have to play proper cricketing shots. Ultimately you have to score and know when you switch gears,” he said.
“Players like Glenn Maxwell and Chris Gayle will always play unorthodox shots because they have the variety and they want to disturb the bowler’s rhythm. Players like Virat Kohli, Joe Root and Kane Williamson play classical shots and dominate the game.”
Pujara says now even bowlers have tricks up their sleeve in the shorter format. “As a bowler you need to think a lot in this format. You need to have options in your bowling. Slower yorkers and bouncers have become a part of a bowler’s arsenal”
“Bowlers are trying to be innovative and as a batsman you have to guess a bowler’s strength.”