SHIMOGA: Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s highest-ranked batsman with two double centuries from 13 Tests, doesn’t have much to prove playing against West Indies ‘A’ a month before he’d be facing the senior team in the home Tests.
But he’s here nonetheless. If his IPL team had qualified for Champions League T20, he’d have sat this one out. However, he still had the option of keeping away before the season. But Pujara is an old school cricketer. “It was mutual understanding, I wanted to play and BCCI wanted me to play," he said when asked if the decision to play and captain India ‘A’ was his alone.
But how does Pujara, a fixed number 3 in the senior side, find motivation to play a series of insignificant matches? He also travelled to South Africa for another ‘A’ series before the onedayers against West Indies ‘A’.
“In cricket it’s important to be in touch with the game. You still want to play first-class cricket and feel confident and improve your game. Rather than practising, I feel it’s important to play any (sort of) matches, even a club game," he said after a two-hour hit in the nets.
The second four-day unofficial Test starts on Wednesday.
Pujara welcomed the addition of Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag to the side; the trio missed the first match in Mysore. “It’s a positive thing. With their exposure and experience… this level is an easier option. But, it’s a good opportunity for them also. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone, but it’s a good opportunity to prove something to themselves I guess."
Of course, Pujara is not sailing in the same boat. For the above mentioned trio, the next ten days are critical. It will determine whether or not they join the IndiaWest Indies clash next month.
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Sehwag, struck on the hand by Dhawal Kulkarni at the nets on Tuesday, is a 50-50 starter. Though he batted briefly after the hit, Pujara said: “The final call will be taken in the evening."