Mumbai: Sounding a warning to Bangladesh and Australia, prolific Indian no. 3 Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said on Thursday he had been working out a few new things in his game which he could try out in the Irani Cup game for Rest of India against Gujarat starting in Mumbai on Friday.
"I have worked on a few things in my game. Probably I'll try and execute them in this game. I can't disclose much about my batting. I like to score big runs but that is one thing that is on the cards," said Pujara, who will lead the Rest against the newly-crowned Ranji Trophy champions at the Brabourne Stadium.
"Obviously, I have played enough cricket at CCI (Cricket Club of India) and in Mumbai, so I know how the conditions will be. Obviously, I would first think that we want to win the games, so I would want to score runs. If I score some and get set, then I would like to try a few things," the Saurashtra batsman added.
India are to play a one-off Test against Bangladesh in Hyderabad later this month followed by a four-Test series against Australia, a team that got whipped 4-0 on its last visit to this country.
Pujara has a splendid record against the Aussies at home, having scored 495 runs in five Tests at a robust average of over 70.
He has been in very good touch in the two Test rubbers that India have already played this season at home - against New Zealand (373 runs in 3 Tests) and England (401 runs in 5 Tests).
The 28-year-old Rajkot-born cricketer, who averages a shade under 50 after 43 Test matches under his belt, said the Irani game offers him a good opportunity to get into the groove ahead of the remainder of the Test season at home.
"I think it will be good for me to have some practice before the Test series starts. I always love playing first-class cricket. It gives you the experience, the exposure, it helps you keep in touch."
Saying the year that went by was a hugely successful one for India, Pujara credited team work for the result. "The last year was very good for the Indian team. We played very good cricket, especially in Test matches, where we haven't lost a match. Most of the matches we dominated and we played as a team.
"All the players performed, that was the reason for our success. Our lower order contributed, our pacers and spinners both did well and all the batters, at some stage, did well. That was the reason for our success."
He praised the lower order batting of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and newcomer Jayant Yadav for frustrating the opposition with defiant stands.
"It makes a huge difference for the team. The opposition, especially, always gets frustrated. Obviously Ashwin has been batting well, Jadeja has improved his batting and when someone like Jayant scores a hundred, they get tired.
"And when they have a chance of getting us out for a lesser total, we end up getting a lead of 150-22. That puts them under (more) pressure.
"Talking about this year, the way we started the year, chasing 350 (in the first ODI versus England at Pune) was a big achievement. The way Kedar Jadhav and Virat played was fantastic," he added.
He praised Karun Nair's triple hundred in the Chennai Test that India won for a thumping 4-0 victory over England.
"To score it (triple ton) at international level is a very big achievement. It was remarkable. No matter what kind of wicket you are playing on, to score a triple hundred in international cricket is never easy. Not many players have done it. So I would say it was a very good innings.
"That was a session where he had to accelerate because we wanted to declare. He played his shots, that was his game. He has so many shots in his game, which is a plus point for him. He is a dedicated cricketer who always wants to improve.
"I have seen him the way he used to play for India `A' a couple of years ago and now, there is a big change in his batting and approach. If he continues like this, it will be really good for the Indian team. I hope he does that."
The Saurashtra batsman welcomed the competition in the team, when asked about wicketkeeper Wridhiman Saha, who was replaced by Parthiv Patel after he got injured.
"It's very good for the Indian team. Both are experienced, both are performing well. Ultimately it would be up to the team management to decide. I always believe if you have healthy competition, it’s very good for the team.
"If we want to be No. 1 in the world, we need to have some back-up players. Not just wicketkeepers, but even in other departments. We need players who can come in and perform well. Someone like Karun Nair is a prime example. He was doing well with the India `A' and when he got the opportunity, he scored a triple hundred. We need such players."
He advised gangling Rajasthan pace bowler Pankaj Singh, included in the Rest outfit, to take a cue from Parthiv who made a comeback after several years in the series against England by forcing his way through domestic cricket performance.
"He is a very good bowler. Personally, I feel he is one of the most talented fast bowlers we have. He had an opportunity to represent the Indian team when we toured England (in 2014). Things didn't go well but he is someone who always likes to improve.
"He always gives his best and I definitely feel if he keeps performing at this level, he will definitely get an opportunity to play for the Indian team again. It’s just about maintaining his fitness, maintaining his bowling. He has to keep improving. Parthiv Patel is one example of having made a comeback after doing well in the domestic circuit," Pujara said.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2017 16:27 PM