Tuesday, August 3, 2021

New Zealand will have advantage of playing two Tests before WTC final, says Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara Ajinkya Rahane

SOUTHAMPTON, June 13: Batsman Cheteshwar Pujara says New Zealand will have the advantage going into the WTC final after playing a Test series against England but India will utilise the available time to prepare well for the title clash, starting here on June 18.

While the Indian squad is training by playing intra-squad matches after completing their quarantine period, New Zealand trumped England 1-0 in a two-match series in the run-up to the World Test Championship final.
The Indian players played in the IPL before the T20 league was suspended due to coronavirus.
“They will obviously have advantage having played two Test matches before the final but when it comes to the final we will give our best and we know that our team has the potential to do well and win the championship,” Pujara told bcci.tv.
“So we are not worried about that, we will try and focus on these 10 to 12 days which we have for preparation. We are also going to play a practice game and we will try and make the most of what we have. If we utilise these days well I feel that our team will be up for the final.”
The middle-order batsman from Saurashtra said more than anything, adjusting to the fickle England weather is a big challenge for the players.
“Playing in different conditions in a single day here is the most challenging part for a batsman because if it rains you go off the field and then suddenly it stops raining and you start again.
“So there are breaks in between and this is where you need to understand and accept the challenge. Mentally you have to be strong, your concentration needs to be up to the mark.”
Pujara, who has scored 6244 runs in 85 Tests, said reaching the WTC final is a special achievement for the Indian team.
“Personally it means a lot to me because I am playing this one format and this is the most challenging format in cricket. We have worked really hard as a team for a period of time to reach here.
“So, I am sure all the guys are looking forward to the final and winning this final will mean a lot to us. But even to reach the final the team has worked really hard for two years.”
The 33-year-old said the Indian team is a well-knit unit as the players have spent considerable time together in the bio-bubble.
“Playing cricket during the pandemic has been challenging and the guys have been excellent the way we have managed things. I think we have come close enough because of the time spent together in the bubble,” he said.
Batting straight and close to the body key to success in English conditions, says Ajinkya Rahane
India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane believes that a batsman who loves challenge will relish the unpredictable conditions in England and said the key to achieve success there is to play straight and close to the body.
“Batsmen who enjoy batting in challenging conditions will relish in England. If you get set, England is a very good place for bating. As a batsman, I have realised that in England; the more you play straight and close, the better it is for you,” Rahane was quoted as saying by ‘bcci.tv’.
“One more thing I feel is that as a batsman you are never set even when you are batting on 70 or 80; one ball and there is a chance of you getting out,” he said ahead of the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand starting here on June 18.
The 33-year-old middle-order batsman said India are deservingly in the WTC final on the back of a consistent showing in the last two years.
“(For) Two years we have played consistent cricket as a team and reaching the WTC final is a result of this. It was not easy because in Test cricket you have to give your best in every match,” Rahane said.
“Overall the cricket we had played since the start of the WTC, from West Indies, the team has performed as a unit till now.”
The hype around the Test notwithstanding, Rahane said Virat Kohli and his men are taking the match as just another game.
“Yes, it is an important match but as a team we will take it as just another game. We have got quality time here to prepare ourselves. Personally, I am very excited to play the WTC final. We will just try to give our best in this match and accept whatever the result is,” he said.
Rahane led India to a famous come-from-behind 2-1 Test series win in Australia during their last tour. Regular skipper Kohli had returned home after the first match on paternity leave.

“Leading the country in Australia was the proudest moment for me because you are representing your country and then winning the series in Australia, especially after losing the first match, it was the biggest series for us.
“Personally I am really happy the way we played in Australia overall but right now it is all about this game and giving our best as a team,” he said. (PTI)