‘It will be a proud mo­ment to play my 50th Test match’

Muscat Daily - - PRESS RELEASES -

Colombo, Sri Lanka - After In­dia lost The Oval Test of 2014 in­side three days, thus los­ing the se­ries 1-3 after lead­ing, skip­per M S Dhoni came out armed with the num­ber of caps in his side as against those in Eng­land's.

Dhoni asked for time for a young In­dian side, some of whom had started play­ing only when In­dia started its 13 straight overseas Tests, be­gin­ning with South Africa in 2013-14.

Later this year, or early next year, In­dia will start a sim­i­lar jour­ney, but things will be dif­fer­ent this time.

Vi­rat Kohli has played 58 Tests, M Vi­jay reached 50 Tests dur­ing In­dia's last home sea­son, the last Test in Galle was R Ash­win's 50th, and now the SSC Test, be­gin­ning on Thurs­day, will be Chetesh­war Pu­jara's 50th.

Un­less there is an in­jury, Ajinkya Ra­hane will go to South Africa with 43 Tests un­der his belt. The bowlers will all be on at least their sec­ond trip to those coun­tries.

Add to it the most ex­pe­ri­enced mem­ber of the side, Ishant Sharma. Three days from start­ing the SSC Test, Pu­jara said this was a great sign for the team hop­ing to set the record in the four dif­fi­cult coun­tries right - South Africa, Eng­land, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

"It will make a big dif­fer­ence be­cause as a team you want play­ers who are ex­pe­ri­enced enough," Pu­jara said of the col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in the side.

"When we first toured South Africa, New Zealand and Eng­land, we were a young team, we didn't know what to ex­pect from the op­po­si­tion and some­times we also didn't know what were our strengths in such con­di­tions.

“But now when we go back there again, we will have a clear

game plan. Our bowlers will know which ar­eas to bowl and even as a bat­ting unit, we will be very con­fi­dent and clear with our game plans.

“I think hav­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing more Test matches will help us."

An ex­am­ple of this could be how Pu­jara him­self was a dif­fer­ent bats­man on his sec­ond trip to South Africa.

On his first trip there, soon after his de­but in 2010, Pu­jara fought hard but had only 31 runs in three in­nings to show for it. On his sec­ond trip, in 2013-14, Pu­jara scored a cen­tury in Jo­han­nes­burg.

"My first away tour, after mak­ing my de­but, in 2011 when we went to South Africa fac­ing Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel was the tough­est part of my ca­reer.

“And I learnt and when I went there again in 2013, it was a dif­fer­ent ball-game all to­gether but yes 2011 was tough."

Be­ing around ex­pe­ri­enced crick­eters helped him. "Well I told my­self that I have to work hard on my game es­pe­cially if I want to play at the in­ter­na­tional level against world-class

bowlers in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions," Pu­jara said of that se­ries.

"After that I re­ally worked hard on my game, start­ing in 2011 and I got re­sults in 2012 and 2013. I was look­ing at play­ers like Viren­der Se­hwag, Gautam Gamb­hir and Sachin paaji [Ten­dulkar], all of them got runs in that tour, in some in­nings and I was just try­ing to no­tice what are the things that they are try­ing to do and I had a chat with them and I did try im­ple­ment­ing a few things in nets, which did help me later on."

The other thing Pu­jara has learnt, per­haps with ex­pe­ri­ence, is not to take too much pres­sure of past fail­ures, such as the pre­vi­ous Eng­land tour, which be­gan a string of low scores for him.

"I would def­i­nitely like to score runs but there won't be any pres­sure this time as I have played some county cricket," Pu­jara said.

"Play­ing in Eng­land will al­ways be chal­leng­ing, the wick­ets are bowler-friendly but I would def­i­nitely like to score some runs. But I wouldn't think that far ahead be­cause we have a tour of South Africa first after this se­ries, the next away tour is South Africa and I would like to pre­pare for that."

And, of course, revel in play­ing his 50th Test. "Play­ing the 50th Test match for the coun­try, it will be a proud mo­ment for me," Pu­jara said.

"When I started play­ing cricket, I thought that Test cricket is al­ways some­thing that I wanted to play. When I have an op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent the coun­try for the 50th Test match, it will be a proud mo­ment. The way things have shaped up so far, the ca­reer has been re­ally good. There have been ups and downs, but look­ing at the re­cent form, I will be look­ing for­ward to play in the 50th Test match and score some runs for the team."

The way things have shaped up so far, the ca­reer has been re­ally good

Chetesh­war Pu­jara

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