'I feel for him': Cheteshwar Pujara believes Indian batsman 'should also be part of the IPL'
Cheteshwar Pujara might have been a regular in the Indian Test side but couldn't find a buyer in the Indian Premier League for several years. Pujara was often overlooked by franchises due to his reputation of being a Test match player. He played for 3 teams between 2008 and 2014 but always went unsold in the subsequent auctions.
Pujara's fortunes changed this year as he finally found a franchise to play for in IPL 2021. Pujara was bought by Chennai Super Kings at his base price of ₹50 lakh. While Pujara will be a part of the IPL this year, another India Test regular who would be missing is Hanuma Vihari.
The 27-year-old right-handed batsman could not find a buyer in the auctions and would be sitting out of the cash-rich league. Pujara has commented on him missing out and said that Vihari should be a part of the league.
"Last few years, I'm the only one who has been missing out [on playing in the IPL] from the Indian team. The only guy missing out at this stage is Hanuma Vihari. I feel for him. He was previously part of the IPL. I feel that he should also be part of the IPL." Pujara said in an interaction with ESPNCricinfo.
Pujara was also asked about his strike-rate which will always be highlighted because of his lack of power-hitting, Pujara said that he will rely on timing like his national team skipper Kohli or his deputy Rohit.
"...When it comes to strike rate, yes, I agree that I'm not a power-hitter. But at the same time, you learn from players like Virat (Kohli). Rohit (Sharma), he is not purely a power-hitter, but he is one of the best timers of the ball I have seen in the shorter formats," Pujara told ESPN Cricinfo.
Even the likes of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson could be a great example to emulate since he plays all cricketing shots.
"You learn from players like Kane Williamson. Even Steven Smith. All of them score runs by just playing cricketing shots, and at the same time they will be innovative," Pujara said.
"I also have that mindset, that if I want to be successful, I also need to be innovative, but at the same time you can still score runs by playing cricket shots. You need to get better at generating power, I won't deny that, but ultimately cricketing sense is what I feel will be your main strength."
The 33-year-old admitted that during the early stages of his career, he used to feel that tweaking his game to suit the needs of T20 will hamper his Test cricket but not anymore.
"... it all comes with experience. When I was playing the T20 format in the past, I had a little bit of a worry that what if my Test cricket gets spoiled? Then there will be some technical error once the IPL gets over.
"But now I am over that. What I realised over a period of time is my natural game, my strengths, will never go away," Pujara said.
(with PTI inputs)