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No cricket practice after lockdown left me unready for Australia: Pujara

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While Cheteshwar Pujara is labelled as the perfect successor to Rahul Dravid in red-ball cricket, he is often overlooked by the selectors for the limited-overs contest. Not only ODIs, but Pujara’s last Indian T20 League outing had come back in 2014 when he played just six matches.

The Saurashtra batsman believes his lack of action in the Indian T20 League had left him underprepared ahead of the Australian Tour, unlike most of his teammates.

"After the lockdown, I didn't have any match practise before the Australia tour so to prepare for that big series it became a little difficult,” he told Boria Majumdar on Sports Today's Youtube Channel.

“Otherwise, if there was no pandemic, then there would have been some first-class games which I would have played. But because of the 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 a few more games, it took me a couple of Test matches to find the right way (to bat in Australia),"

"Yes, at the same time it becomes difficult when other guys are getting some match practice," added the middle-order batsman referring to his colleagues' appearance in Indian T20 League in UAE.

Though it took Pujara some time, the batsman was back at his resilient best in the last two Test matches of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, where he ended up tallying 208 runs and guiding India to a series victory.

The Gabba Test will be fondly remembered for Pujara’s brave stance against Australia’s pace attack who threw everything at him. And Pujara, who was caught-behind 5 times out of the 8 innings during the series, was impressed by the hosts.

"Credit also goes to the Australian team because they did a lot of homework on what I did on the last series there,” Pujara said.

“It wasn't easy to break that game plan 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," he added.

A 33-year-old Pujara has managed just five ODIs for Team India in his career with his last white-ball action coming back on August 1, 2013. But the batsman hasn’t stopped dreaming.

"I still have aspirations to play white-ball cricket for Team India, there's no doubt about that," he added.

Feature Image Courtesy: AFP/ David Kapernick

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