'When I didn't play a single game, I told myself...': Pujara says CSK snub triggered red-hot form in Royal London Cup
It was the CSK snub that fiercely motivated Cheteshwar Pujara to add a different layer to his batting in the shorter formats.
The way Cheteshwar Pujara batted in the recently-concluded Royal London One-Day Cup was a breath of fresh air. Representing Sussex, Pujara amassed 624 runs from nine matches, including three centuries and two fifties at an average of almost 90 and more importantly, a strike-rate of 112. Pujara registered scores of 107, 174, 49 not out, 66 and 132 during which he played some dazzling strokes, almost making them look like T20s.
Known for his conservative approach, Pujara, for years has been India's Test specialist struggling to break it in India's limited-overs squad – Pujara has played five ODIs the last of which came way back in 2014 – and although he has been picked up by IPL franchises, he has featured only in 30 matches between 2010 and 2014. The last time Pujara was picked in the IPL was in 2021 by Chennai Super Kings, but did not get a game. In fact, it was the CSK snub that fiercely motivated Pujara to add a different layer to his batting in the shorter formats.
"This is a different side of my game for sure. There is no doubt about it. Pitches were good, slightly flat but even those surfaces, you need to have that intent of scoring at a higher strike-rate. This is something which I have always worked on. I was part of CSK a year before last and when I didn't play any games and saw the guys prepare, I told myself that if I want to play the shorter format. I always used to put a big prize on my wicket but I the shorter formats, you still want to play your shots in your game," Pujara said on 'The Cricket Podcast'.
Pujara went on to say that being neglected prompted to rethink his batting strategy. His Test form was never much of a concern. His magnificent form for Sussex helped him reclaim his place in the Indian Test squad for the rescheduled fifth Test against England in Birmingham earlier this year. But the way he set the 50-over format on fire was a sight to behold. His innings of 174 against Surrey came off just 131 balls, and the knock of 130 needed just 90 deliveries. Against Warwickshire, when he scored 171, Pujara smashed 22 runs in the 45th over of the innings.
"I worked on it before the Royal London One-Day Cup. I went with Grant and spoke to him that there are some shots which I want to work. When we were training, he told me that I am executing those really well and that gave me confidence. I thought that if I could keep working on some of the lofted shots which could help me and if I can execute those, I could be successful even in shorter formats," added Pujara.