Ahead of the World Test Championship finale, Cheteshwar Pujara has outlined that it's a dream to feature in the game as it's akin to the World Cup of the longest format. He also revealed that the team management has been very supportive of him, especially away from home where it's very challenging.
Generally, Test match cricket has all been about bilateral rivalry. But ever since the World Test Championship was introduced by the ICC, it has changed the dynamics and given more context to each and every Test a side plays in the longer version of the game as it increases or diminishes their chances to qualify for the WTC finale.
And now, in the span of a few weeks, world cricket will witness the inaugural World Test Championship finale and subsequently champions too, when India and New Zealand clash in an epic battle at the Rose Bowl from June 18 onwards.
For players who just feature in Test matches for the country like Cheteshwar Pujara, it will hold even more significance as it will be an elusive opportunity for them to lay their hands at a championship trophy if their side ends up winning the silverware. And India's no.3 is also excited for the much-anticipated game and termed it a 'huge' game and also a 'dream' for him and the team as it’s the World Cup of red-ball cricket.
“That will be a huge game for all of us because we have worked very hard to reach there. Each Test series was very important for us which has taken us to England for the final. This team has shown that we have got the tremendous potential and hopefully, we will do well in the final as we have been doing in Test cricket for a long time. It’s a dream for all of us because WTC is indeed the World Cup of Test format and we all would like to win this trophy," Pujara told Cricket.com.
One of the hallmarks of the Indian team in Tests has been their ability to win in Australia as now they have dominated and won in the last two series Down Under. Pujara was an integral part in both series wins, though he reckons that the 2018 win was the most special. It was a series where he had put up his career best performance and had a mammoth tally of 521 runs, which had made the Aussie skipper Tim Paine remark that it was as if he had faced at least a million deliveries in the series.
“Any tour of Australia is always a big challenge and very important for us. In that sense, the 2018 win was the most special. And then of course our last series win was also very special because the team was relatively weak as some of the senior players were not there and some of them were injured and not available for all the matches. As a team, it was a huge achievement and personally it was very satisfying,” reflects Pujara.
The Saurashtra batsman takes a lot of pride in performing well against a top side like Australia which have an exceptional bowling attack.
“Fortunately for me, whatever I had planned for those tours did click. Australia is one of the best teams. Their bowling attack is one of the best in world cricket and doing well against them gives you some pride but you can’t be sitting on past laurels. You have to start afresh for a new challenge,” says Pujara.
Despite performing well for the country, Pujara has also been a soft-target for the fans and is often called out for his intent-less batting in Tests even when he's able to do decently with the bat. However, the Indian veteran revealed that he has always got the backing of the team management and believes in playing to his strengths.
“Team management has always backed me for my role. Every player has to play according to his strength. Especially away from home which is most important because you have to negotiate the challenges of the new ball. My role is clear that top order shouldn’t lose too many wickets and that is what I try to achieve. At the same time, (the likes of) Rishabh sticks to his strength. The team is only successful when roles are defined clearly and everyone is doing what he is expected to do. It’s always about collective effort.”