'There were major chances that I wouldn’t have got any games': Pujara recalls going unsold in IPL 2022 auction
- Pujara on Sunday received a callback for the 17-member Test squad on the back of his superb performance for Sussex in England's County Championship.
Veteran batter Cheteshwar Pujara on Sunday received a callback for the 17-member India Test squad for the one-off Test in Birmingham, beginning July 1. As India and England attempt to complete their unfinished five-match series, which India lead 2-1, Pujara was included in the Test contingent on the back of his superb performance for Sussex in England's County Championship. IPL 2022 Full Coverage
Pujara played the three-Test series against South Africa in January before he was dropped for the Sri Lanka Tests. During his recent spell with Sussex, the 34-year-old batter notched up four 100-plus scores, including two double hundreds, in five county championship division two matches.
Pujara's red-hot form in England came during the ongoing IPL. While the Indian found no buyers in the February auction, the Test specialist believes he wouldn't have earned any game time in the lucrative T20 tournament.
Pujara has so far played only 30 matches in the IPL scoring only 390 runs at an average of 20.52. His strike rate of 99.74 is however the biggest worry. He previously was a part of four-time IPL winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK) but didn't play a single game in the 2021 IPL edition.
“You can say that now in hindsight. Had I been picked by an IPL team, there were major chances that I wouldn’t have got any games. I would have just gone (to nets) and practised. Getting match practice and practice in the nets is always different. So when the county thing happened, I just said yes. The major reason I said yes to the county (stint) is that I wanted my old rhythm back,” Pujara told The Indian Express.
“I was positive, there was no doubt about it. The way my county stint went, I was hopeful that I will make a comeback to the Indian team. But when I went to play county cricket, the India comeback was never on my mind; I just wanted to find my rhythm and I knew one big innings would help me find my rhythm back.”
On his county stint, Pujara said his time in England helped him regain fitness and concentration levels. He and Ajinkya Rahane, who endured a mediocre IPL phase with Kolkata Knight Riders, were dropped for the two home Tests against Sri Lanka in March. While Rahane didn't find a place, Pujara made a successful return to the Test fold.
Pujara also played three Ranji Trophy games this season as the premier domestic event made its return after two years. After Saurashtra failed to qualify for the knock-outs, he headed to the UK for a full-fledged County season.
“I was just trying to find my old form. If you look at my innings in the past, I was getting 80s, 90s, so I never felt I was out of form even when the big runs were not coming. I was just hoping to get big runs. Big runs means not 100 but 150-plus scores. Because to get back to my usual concentration level, I needed those big scores. And I found that in England. I found my rhythm and as I got those runs, things began to fall in place.”
“Once I bat for long, it not only improves concentration, but it also improves fitness. The county stint helped me to see where my fitness stands. One cannot play big innings if one does not have proper fitness. So everything went well," said the veteran.