After being recalled to the India Test squad for the deciding Test against England, taking place in July, Cheteshwar Pujara has revealed that the comeback was not on his mind when he went to play for Sussex. Pujara has been in stupendous form in county cricket, scoring 720 runs in five games so far.
Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from the Indian Test squad during their last assignment against Sri Lanka two months earlier. He was not in the best of form for over two years and because of that, Hanuma Vihari was preferred at his familiar No.3 position. Vihari did well, and many had thought Pujara might not be able to return to the set-up again.
However, the talismanic Test-specialist proved them wrong. He joined Sussex cricket ahead of the ongoing County Championship campaign, and it turned out to be a masterstroke. He has already aggregated 720 runs in five matches, with scores of 6, 201 not out, 109, 12, 203, 16, 170* and 3. These helped him to get a recall from the Team India, as he has been picked for the series-deciding Test match against England, to be played in Birmingham in July.
"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," Pujara told Indian Express after getting picked by the BCCI.
"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 mean 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.”
Further, Pujara mentioned had he been picked by any IPL franchise this year, it would have been a disaster for him. Notably, Pujara was signed by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) last year, but did not get to play a single match.
"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," he added.