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Australian team did a lot of homework on what I did in the last Test series: Cheteshwar Pujara

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HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cheteshwar Pujara scored 271 runs from 928 balls at 33.87 in the Australia Test series
  • Pujara was the 4th highest run-scorer in the series behind Labuschagne, Smith, and Pant
  • Pujara was caught-behind 5 times out of the 8 innings that he batted in this series

Cheteshwar Pujara plays only red-ball cricket for Team India therefore, it was harder for him to prepare for the Test series in Australia with very little match practice due to the stoppage of cricket in India because of COVID.

Cheteshwar Pujara was India's 2nd highest run-scorer in the Border-Gavaskar series 2020-21

Cheteshwar Pujara was India’s 2nd highest run-scorer in the Border-Gavaskar series 2020-21 (AP Photo)

Cricket came to an abrupt halt in the first week of March last year and the subsequent lockdown forced the stoppage of all tournaments and series in India. Pujara therefore, got no match practice before he went to Australia.

The 32-year-old couldn’t play any cricket for nearly 10 months in 2020 due to the COVID lockdown, featured in just the 1 warm-up match in Sydney before diving straight into the Border-Gavaskar series in which he ended up as India’s second-highest run-scorer behind Rishabh Pant (274) with 271 runs with 3 half-centuries.

But more than the runs he scored, it was the time he spent at the crease holding up one end that proved to be crucial for Team India.

The Saurashtra batsman opened up on the difficulties he faced before the Australia tour as he was the only one preparing for red-ball cricket while the rest of the Indian players were busy with the IPL 2020 in the UAE. Pujara also said that he still hopes to play white-ball cricket for India someday.

“I still have aspirations to play white-ball cricket for Team India, there’s no doubt about that. Yes, at the same time it becomes difficult when other guys are getting some match practice.

“After the lockdown, I didn’t have any match practice before the Australia tour so to prepare for that big series it became a little difficult. Otherwise, if there was no COVID then there would have been some first-class games that I would have played.

“But because of the COVID lockdown, there were not many FC games which I could play. I only played 1 game (warm-up match) before the Test series started so as a batter it was difficult to gain the rhythm, concentration. Early on it was difficult but as I started playing few more games, it took me a couple of Test matches to find the right way (to bat in Australia),” Pujara told Boria Majumdar on Sports Today.

Pujara, who scored nearly 500 runs on his last Test series Down Under, also praised the Aussie bowlers for the strategy they deployed against him throughout the 4 Tests on this tour. Pujara was caught-behind 5 times out of the 8 innings that he batted in this series.

“Credit also goes to the Australian team because they did a lot of homework on what I did on the last series there.

“It wasn’t easy to break that gameplan but after a couple of Test matches I found my rhythm, concentration back, I trusted what I was doing and I was able to score runs in the last two Tests,” Pujara said.

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