Cheteshwar Pujara believes the tons of runs he has scored at every level and format of the game have left him on the verge of a national call-up. However, unlike Dav Whatmore, his coach at the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), he sees no reason to question the selectors.
“My job is to score runs and I have done that to the best of my abilities and the selectors have seen it,” the right-hand middle-order batsman told HT .
Four of the five national selectors saw Pujara lead India A and amass 776 runs in 10 matches on the recent tour of England and Scotland. Split in batches of two, Yashpal Sharma, Narendra Hirwani, Raja Venkat and Surendra Bhave covered both the four-dayers and the limited-over matches.
“I think I am on the verge of being selected for India, maybe for the next series. That’s how I am preparing myself,” Pujara said. Whatmore has said Pujara should have been picked for India’s ongoing tour of Sri Lanka ahead of Yuvraj Singh. Instead, the 22-year-old will play in the Emerging Players tournament in Australia next month.
However, Pujara is confident his time will come, his belief strengthened by his performance in the tri-series in England, a country he had never toured before. The India selectors usually blood youngsters in ODIs and Pujara’s chart-topping 332 runs scored against quality attacks of England Lions and West Indies A will stand him in good stead. India A lost the final to England Lions.
Pujara also hit a double hundred in the four-dayers against West Indies A. India A won the two-match series 1-0.
“It is important to score runs in all formats,” said Pujara, who overcame a slow start to play some important knocks for KKR in the third edition of the IPL. It was a step-up for Pujara, whose campaign ended before it started when he tore a ligament during a KKR practice tie.
“Pujara showed tremendous temperament and focus on tour,” said India A coach and former India batsman Pravin Amre. “He was by far the best of the lot,” said a selector. The lot included Tamil Nadu’s Abhinav Mukund and Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane, who scored more than 500 runs each on tour.
“I cannot comment on selection matters, but Pujara has certainly stacked up the runs,” the selector added.