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Pujara credits county stint for good run of form

The big run-getter said playing in challenging wickets in England helped him to be prepared for Sri Lanka Tests

By Anand Subramaniam in
There is no stopping Cheteshwar Pujara. The last time he played red ball cricket for India was back in March this year against Australia wherein he had a brilliant run with the bat. The rest of the team were off for white ball duties while Pujara headed to England for a county stint, something that kept him in good stead for the Sri Lanka Tests. “I played about four county matches which always helps. When I have some time in between Test matches and if I am not part of the IPL, I prefer to go and play some county matches,” Pujara said.

“It gives me exposure, playing in different conditions, facing different bowlers. Playing county cricket is always challenging. So, you never get easy runs. Most of the times, you are playing on challenging wickets. So as a cricketer, it teaches you a lot. You grow as a cricketer, your technique improves and when you come and play international cricket again, you have some experience of playing first-class cricket and you are always in touch with the game. So, playing some county games did help me.”

Pujara looked in ominous touch throughout the innings. When asked if he found any of the Sri Lankan bowlers challenging to face, he just smiled as a matter of fact, like it was a usual day at the office. Pad up, walk in, grind it out and make runs. Simple as that. For Pujara, the hunger for runs keeps him going. “You always want to score big runs and put up a big total. I don't need any extra motivation as far as cricket is concerned because I love playing this game. I love my batting, so whenever I get the opportunity to score runs or do something on the field, I always like the challenge. And I'm always very well prepared because even before any Test series or first-class games, I trust my abilities and work hard on my preparation. Whenever there is a challenge, I'm always up for it.”

Start of the series, getting a big score and putting the opposition on the backfoot straightaway. India couldn’t have asked for a better start to the series, but there was no room for complacency according to Pujara. “When you start off well, it always puts the opposition on the back foot but when you are playing at the international level, you still expect them to fight back and we wouldn’t take them lightly. We would just like to stick to what we want to do and that was the reason for our success in the home season. We stuck to our strength, we focussed on the things that we wanted to and we excelled as a team. We would just like to stay focussed.”

India have the advantage going into day 3 with five Lankan batsmen already in the hut. For the team though, it was not about letting off the steam. Pujara expected to get more assistance for the spinners on day 3. “Our bowlers are bowling good lines and lengths. On this wicket, you know what areas to bowl on, and the batsmen had some inputs on what kind of line and length we could bowl. There is some assistance as well, for the spinners. Ashwin and Jadeja both have been bowling really well even in the last season and they've continued that. I think tomorrow onwards, we'll see a little more turn on this wicket. The pitch is drying up, so there will be more assistance from tomorrow.”