New Delhi, November 16
Cheteshwar Pujara has full faith in India’s “remarkable” bowlers who, he feels, have the ability to script a repeat of the historic 2018-19 Test series victory against Australia. Pujara’s 500-plus runs with three hundreds formed the cornerstone of a 2-1 series win back then, India’s first-ever in Australia. However, top Australian batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner didn’t play in that series as they were serving a ban for ball-tampering.
“It (Australian batting line-up) will be a little stronger than what it was in 2018-19, but then victories don’t come easy. If you want to win away from home, you need to work hard,” Pujara said before he left for the tour of Australia.
Pujara said India’s fast bowling troika of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami can again work up magic, as they did in 2018-19. “No doubt Smith, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne are great players. But the good part about our current crop of bowlers is that most of them play in the same series and our bowling unit will also not be very different to what it was in 2018-19,” Pujara said.
“They know how to be successful in Australia as they have enjoyed success there in the past,” the India No. 3 added. “They have their game-plans in place and if we can execute them well, they are capable of getting Smith, Warner and Labuschagne out quickly.”
The opening Test in Adelaide is a day/night game and batting against the pink Kookaburra brand ball during twilight sessions will pose its own set of challenges, said Pujara, who has scored 5840 runs in 77 Tests, with 18 hundreds. “It will be a different challenge altogether playing with pink ball as pace and bounce also changes. We will be playing with pink Kookaburra in Australia,” he said. India played with the pink SG brand ball against Bangladesh in their only day/night Test last year in Kolkata. “It will be slightly different,” said Pujara about the different ball brand.
“As a team and as individuals, one has to understand and accept and get used to it (pink ball and lights) as early possible. There will be a bit of difference with pink ball,” he said. “The twilight period is more challenging than other periods but as you play more and practise more, you get used to it. It does take a little while.”
Plans in place
Pujara has plans in place for Australia, but did not want to divulge much. “The technical aspect is something that I can’t discuss. I prefer not talking about it. It’s a strategic thing which can’t be divulged,” he said. “Even during the last tour, my preparation was good. I am confident that I am able to repeat the same preparation before this series also. I always try and add a few more things in my game, which will help me get better.”
The 32-year-old said to win, the team would to fight up collectively.
“You can’t win matches on your own. Yes, you can perform exceptionally well but you need support from other players to win. Even the bowling unit was remarkable during the last series,” he said. “In the end, you need 20 wickets to win a Test and wasn’t just my performance, even other batters supported at some stage or the other. It was the team’s success.”
Pujara practised for two months at his academy in Rajkot under the watchful eyes of his father, his long-time coach. Is he bothered about the lack of match practice? “Look, this is a situation that has impacted millions of lives and people have lost lives,” he said. “In normal circumstances, we would have played domestic cricket and gone to Australia but everyone needs to think about safety and security. As far as I am concerned, I am happy if I am able to practice, do my fitness, running sessions and move my body well, which I did.” — PTI
Adelaide outbreak rattles Oz before opener
MELBOURNE: An outbreak of Covid-19 in Adelaide has rocked Australian cricket a month before the Test series against India and forced a number of players, including captain Tim Paine, into self-isolation. South Australia state, which hosts the first Test at Adelaide Oval on December 17, reported 14 new Covid-19 cases today, a dramatic increase from the previous day, prompting other Australian states to tighten internal borders. Adelaide hosted Sheffield Shield cricket matches last week and players involved have been directed to self-isolate after returning to their home states. Wicketkeeper Paine and Test teammate Matthew Wade are isolating in Tasmania after playing for the state against New South Wales. Young all-rounder Cameron Green and spin bowler Ashton Agar are also self-isolating along with their Western Australia teammates, and could miss the first white-ball match against India in Sydney on November 27. Cricket Australia, which spent months securing government approvals for India’s tour, hopes to have crowds of 27,000 per day at Adelaide Oval for the first Test. Reuters