Cheteshwar Pujara feels that he did not get enough opportunities in the Indian Premier League in order to know what needs to be done to excel in T20s. Pujara made his IPL debut back in 2010 but played only 30 matches until the 2014 season after which he was never picked up in the cash-rich league.
Cheteshwar Pujara is widely regarded as the finest batsman in India’s Test team setup at the moment and thereby, has already played 68 matches. But given his inability to score briskly in limited overs, he has only featured in five ODIs and 30 games in the Indian Premier League. The Saurashtra batsman has scored 390 runs in the franchise-based tournament at a strike rate of little less than 100. Pujara last played for Kings XI Punjab in 2014, where he was dropped after the first six matches, and feels that he never got enough opportunities in order to prove his mettle in the T20 format.
“Sometimes I feel I didn’t get enough opportunities. Whenever I have played the IPL, I didn’t play the whole season. I just featured in three or four games and then wasn’t part of the playing XI after that. It is important for a player to get a long run to be able to better understand what needs to be done to succeed in the T20 format. Now, with experience, I know how to pace my innings, but as a youngster, some more exposure on Indian pitches would have been nice. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you just take it in the stride and move on,” said Pujara, in an interview, reported Sportstar.
Pujara had scored his first ever T20 century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which took place right before the IPL. He slammed 14 fours and one six in order to reach his hundred in 61 balls sending a statement to the franchises of the cash-rich league. However, he reckoned that the longest format will still be his first priority.
“It (Hundred in Mushtaq Ali Trophy) was about proving a point to myself more than anyone else that I can play the IPL, do well in white-ball cricket. You feel happy when you work hard and the results are in your favour. This is just the beginning. I still feel there is a lot to play for as far as limited-overs cricket is concerned. I am working on a few things, but Test cricket will always remain my priority,” stated the 31-year-old.
India had recently won a historic Test series against Australia Down Under and Pujara had a major role to play in the victory as he was the highest run scorer of the series. He had slammed 521 runs including three hundreds and a fifty in seven innings. The right-hander rued the missed chances in the series in the previous overseas tours but was delighted with the victory in Australia.
“It means a lot to me personally and to us as a team. Before leaving for Australia, we had talked about winning a series overseas. We came close in England and South Africa, maybe not very close, but we felt that the final result could have gone our way. But the tour Down Under was where we played really well as a unit. I am someone who always believes in thorough preparation and my training was up to the mark before that series, which is why I was so successful,” he asserted.
In the South Africa tour, Pujara was only able to manage 100 runs in six innings at an average of 16. Barring a fighting knock of 50 in the third test at Johannesburg, he had no other notable contribution. But, he felt that his performance was good enough, although the numbers speak a different story.
“I wouldn’t say I had a bad 2018 because, in South Africa, I was batting really well. I was run out twice in the second Test in Centurion; obviously, I am not trying to point fingers at someone, but when you play Test cricket, mistakes happen. That failure should not be counted, according to me,” reckoned Pujara
“Overall, my track record in South Africa has been good, and even in the last Test of that series (Johannesburg), I scored 50 on one of the toughest wickets I have ever played on. That was the time when I was very confident about my batting; although the numbers said otherwise, I believe the Johannesburg fifty was as good as 150,” he added.
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