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Unperturbed by IPL form, Cheteshwar Pujara aims to prepare for England

New Zealand v India - 2nd Test: Day 1

After a mediocre IPL run before being dropped by Kings XI Punjab, Cheteshwar Pujara has set his eyes on the next big assignment – England

After a mediocre run of form in IPL for Kings XI Punjab, Cheteshwar Pujara finds himself on the bench, with Mandeep Singh, followed by Manan Vohra taking his spot at the top of the order alongside Virender Sehwag. Pujara however, instead of brooding over his current situation, is focussing on his next big assignment, the tour of England.

India’s dependable No.3 batsman in the whites, Pujara is looking to sharpen his skills on the seaming wickets in his home Rajkot prior to the big series.

“Obviously, you can’t create conditions like those in England but I will prepare some tracks back home and practice on them. I will do that just before the series starts. There’s no point starting well ahead and putting pressure but once the IPL gets over, my focus will be on the England series,” Pujara said ahead of the match between Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils.

Pujara’s other concern is making it into the Indian ODI squad, with less than a year left for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. India is scheduled to play a 3-match ODI series in Bangladesh after IPL and in absence of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, Pujara will be looking to get a chance to make a strong case for himself in limited overs cricket.

“It’s always a dream for any player to play in the World Cup but personally, I can’t comment on whether I will be there. But I am very confident that the manner in which I am preparing, I will get some success and hope that in the coming series against Bangladesh, I will get a chance. My preparation has been fantastic.”

Pujara’s biggest roadblock in getting a look-in for the limited overs squads so far has been his perceived inability to bat at break neck speed when required, though he has motored on wonderfully during the latter stages of his trademark marathon innings in Test cricket frequently.

“In Test matches, I have been doing well and that experience will help me in ODIs too because most of the bowlers you play in Tests, play ODIs also. If I have done reasonably well in Tests, it will help me do well in ODI format also,” he said.

Last month, after playing a sedate, forceful innings of 40 off 38 balls for KXIP in a steep chase, Pujara had admitted that he needed more strength behind his shots to power the Maxwell and Miller-like strokes in T20 cricket.

His scores of 35(32), 8(8), 10(18), 19(18) failed to prove his detractors wrong in the next couple of matches, but the 26-year-old said he completed the job which was assigned to him.

“You have to see the combinations in IPL and it’s not that you can play all the games. Overall, I am happy with my performance so far. I was assigned a role and I did well. I am working on my game in T20s and ODIs and this will obviously help me in the future. If I do well in T20s, that can translate into good form in ODIs where I will get more time to build an innings.”

Asked whether he needed an additional ‘gear’ in his batting, he said, “I don’t think it’s about changing gears; it’s all about having more shots in your batting. There are a few more shots for T20 and ODIs but the basics still remain the same as you would want to play the ball as you have known.

“If I have done that in Tests, then why not in ODIs?

“For example, if the third man is up, then playing the reverse sweep is a good option. You could also may be try the scoop or the paddle shot which will force the bowlers to alter the length.”

Pujara said the Kings XI Punjab are focussed on finishing in the top 2, and aim to keep the winning momentum going.

“It is important for us to finish in the top two so that even if we lose the first game, we get another chance to qualify for the final. It is also important to maintain the winning momentum because if we start losing, it becomes very difficult to make a comeback. So I don’t think we need to experiment too much.”

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