'I would like to play T20 and ODI cricket as well' - Cheteshwar Pujara

The batsman, who is often called the natural heir to Rahul Dravid, conceded that the future of cricket lies with the limited-overs format.

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Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In this era of explosive cricket, the tribe of classical long-format batsmen is looking increasingly endangered. But the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara has kept the symbol of ‘batting with patience’ still alive. The right-hand middle-order batsman will return to India’s playing XI for the two-Test series against New Zealand starting February 21. The right-hander, however, has not lost sight of featuring in the limited formats still.

Pujara, who is in good form of late and scored 93 against New Zealand XI in the three-day side match in Hamilton that concluded in a draw on Sunday, will be making his first international appearance of the year in the upcoming series. He last played for India in the two-game series against Bangladesh in November and scored a couple of fifties.

He slammed a 248 for his state Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy recently against Karnataka. Pujara is not one who slam-bangs the ball and hence got to play in only five ODIs for India since making his debut in 2010. He also played in the Indian Premier League for five seasons (2010-2014) and has one hundred in the shortest format with a strike rate of around 109.

Pujara, who made it a habit of consuming tons of balls in Test cricket and was adjudged the man of the series in the historic Test series in Australia in 2018-19 by accumulating 500-plus runs with three centuries, was recently asked about his plan to play the white-ball variant. The 32-year-old didn’t rule out his possibilities and said he still harboured hopes.

“Yes, I would like to play T20 and ODI cricket as well. But yes when you’re playing just one format, you put in a lot of hard work, you put in a lot of effort to be successful in that format. This comes from my junior days. Playing long innings and concentrating for hours and hours. It started when I started playing U14 cricket for Saurashtra.

In my very first game, I was able to score a triple hundred. That is when I created the habit of playing long innings. That is when my journey started,” the 32-year-old was quoted as saying by India Today.

“So I feel if you create that habit for over a period of time then you always become successful even at the international level. When I was playing Ranji Trophy or U19, if I recollect all of those innings, if I recollect all the journey then I understand that why I am successful at the international level now,” Pujara added.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s favourite is the longer format

The batsman, who is often called the natural heir to Rahul Dravid, conceded that the future of cricket lies with the limited-overs format but added that it is the traditional format that remains his favourite in the game. He said very few people today admire the traditional format and he is among them.

“First of all, I do agree (On the dying art of defensive Test batting) because when I look at the modern-day youngsters, all of them want to play shots. And yes the future is obviously T20 and ODI cricket. But at the same time, I think there are still diehard Test fans and I am one of those. I always love playing Test cricket at the same time,” Pujara, who has made 5,740 runs from 75 Tests at an average of nearly 50 and 18 hundreds, said.

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