The Asian Age

India are the most talented team: Stoinis

Test specialist Pujara finds the constant fuss over his strike rate a tad unfair


New Delhi, March 19: Cheteshwar Pujara finds the constant fuss over his strike rate a tad unfair and wants to clarify once and for all that he has got full backing of the team management which understand­s the “importance” of his style of play.

In the age of slam-bang cricket, Pujara brings delight to the purists of the game by batting on and on without worrying too much about the strikerate. But to appreciate someone who epitomises patience in Test cricket is may be asking for too much from the “millennial­s”.

Last week, the soft-spoken 32-year-old from Rajkot found himself at the receiving end again on social media as he laboured his way to 66 off 237 balls in the Ranji Trophy final against Bengal. To his credit, he overcame fever and throat infection to share a gamechangi­ng stand with Arpit Vasavada, helping Saurashtra to their maiden title on the basis of first innings lead.

Whether it is playing for Saurashtra or India, Pujara is used to constant chatter around his strikerate. “I don’t think there is too much talk (on the inside). In media, it is described differentl­y but the team management has been backing me on this completely. There is no pressure from the captain, coach or anyone else,” Pujara, who is currently getting much-needed family time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, said.

“I just want to clarify that when it comes to strike rate people start pointing towards team management’s take on it but there is no pressure on me at all. The team management understand­s my style of play and its importance.”

For someone who averages 48.66 in 77 Tests, perception counts for little. “The question that was asked on social media (during Ranji final) was ‘why am I taking so long to score X number of runs’? Whether I pay attention to that, no, I don’t. My job is to make sure that the team wins at all times.

“People have this tendency to pinpoint one person but it is just not about me. If you look at any Test series where I have scored runs and taken little bit of time, the opposition batsmen, most of them, have consumed same number of balls.

“I know I can’t be a David Warner or Virender Sehwag but if a normal batsman takes time there is nothing wrong in that.”

The entire batting unit had a tough time in New Zealand with the 0-2 loss in Tests marking the end of the internatio­nal season. Pujara collected five half centuries this season, including one in New Zealand, but could not add to his 18 hundreds.

“People expect big knocks from me. I always challenge myself to score a 100 but to average close to 50 in Tests means you are scoring a half-century almost every second innings.

“My standards are always high and I am not satisfied with the season that I had but I would not call it a bad one at all.”

It may be boring and

exhausting for majority of the fans, batting time and wearing out the opposition excites Pujara the most.

Asked why they don’t make it like him anymore, Pujara gave a practical response. “I don’t think it is on the decline (art of batting time). There is value for it. May be the youngsters are not

inclined towards this format. It is a fact that there are more games in whiteball cricket. A youngster would want to play shorter formats because it is financiall­y better.

“There is nothing wrong with that but they should understand that real cricket is Test cricket and you will be judged only on the performanc­es in the five-day game.”

With uncertaint­y over the upcoming county season in the UK due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pujara has no game time lined up in the near

future. — PTI

New Delhi, March 19: Australian cricketer Marcus Stoinis said that Indian players not playing in the team are way more talented than him.

“India is the most talented team in the world. Hands down. The players not playing are way more talented than me,” Stoinis said in the recently released documentar­y on the Australian team titled “The Test” on Amazon Prime. After their successful tour of Australia in 2018, winning Test series 2-1, ODIs to 2-1, and drawing shortest format 1-1, the Indian team were confident of hosting the Kangaroos in the home leg comprising of five-match ODI series.

India after taking early 2-0 lead in series faced three defeats ended with the loss 2-3.

“I love playing in India. I love the culture - its unmatched energy. It heightens all your senses. If you can harness all that excitement, that energy there is no way you can rock up there and not be motivated to play,” he added.

The 30-year-old last played a match for Western Australia in Marsh Sheffield Shield. Before that, he played for Melbourne Stars in the ninth season of Big Bash League (BBL). He was the highest run-getter in the 2020 edition with 705 runs.

— the the consecutiv­e and series


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