It's a dream come true for the 22-year-old Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara. The news of the selection came while Pujara was playing for Indian Oil against Indian Railways in the JP Atray Tournament.
“My teammate ran up to me and broke the news, but I had no time to celebrate as the match was heading for a tight finish,” he said.
Son of former cricketer, Arvind Pujara, the youngster is still to come to terms with the call but said he is ready. “It is a huge opportunity for me. I was hoping for it as I have done well in the domestic circuit. I also did well on the West Indies and England tour. Against West Indies A, I hit a double ton,” he said.
Pujara will be replacing Yuvraj Singh, who incidentally was also playing in Patiala for Air India in the same tournament. With India going into the first Test with seven specialist batsmen apart from Pujara, he has a good chance of making it to final XI.
Pujara has been scoring heavily in the domestic circuit for quite sometime now but denied that his selection would put added pressure.
“My aim will be to give my best and do whatever the team requires me to do. Before the Test series, I am also getting a chance to play in the three-day tour game, which will help me in assessing my strengths and weaknesses. A good performance in the game will brighten my chances of making it to the playing XI,” he said.
Asked whether he would be under pressure while playing against the Australians, Pujara said, it is a challenge that he is looking forward to.
“They may no longer be the number 1 team in the world but they are still a very formidable side. Rather, I am happy that I have a chance to debut against them,” he said, adding, “ I have played well during the tour game against the West Indies and England.”
Pujara believed local knowledge of the conditions and crowd support would give India added advantage during the series.
An opportunity for Chintu: Father
PTI adds from Rajkot:
Reacting to Cheteshwar Pujara's selection, his father Arvind Pujara said the opportunity is not only a great chance but also a great challenge to prove himself at international level.
“This is a very good chance for Chintu (Cheteshwar) given by the national selection committee and now he has to prove himself at international level against formidable side like Australia,” Arvind Pujara said.
“There has always been a very stiff competition for the middle order slot as the country has lot of young and talented batsmen but we all are happy that Chintu has been selected,” he added. “He has been working hard since his childhood and has a dream to play for country now his dream has come true,” said senior Pujara who also played Ranji Trophy matches for Saurashtra and Railways as a wicket keeper.
Cheteshwar also holds the record of smashing three triple tons in a span of one month.