InsideSport Exclusive: Pujara says “Facing Anderson and Broad is a challenge I look forward to” in Ind vs Eng Test series, Cheteshwar Pujara has played 18 Tests against England and scored 1339 runs with five centuries and three half centuries. In his first Test against England at Ahmedabad in November 2012, the solid right hander from Rajkot made 206 not out. His home record against England is nine Tests and 839 runs and away record is nine Tests and 500 runs.
In an exclusive interview for InsideSport, Senior journalist G.Viswanath spoke to Pujara. The mainstay of Indian batting shared his thoughts about the home series against England, check out
Q. You bat at No. 3 for India in Test matches. Have you already started visualising facing Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. They are in India with a phenomenal collection of 1117 wickets (756 together as new ball pair in 96 Tests). Anderson has taken 600 and Broad, 517. ?
A. Facing Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad is always a good challenge I look forward to. I feel that having played them in India and in England will definitely help me because, when you have faced certain bowlers, you know what their actions are like and their strengths. And the variations they bring into play. That’s an advantage for me, but at the same time, they are one of the best pairs in the world. They bowl in partnerships, I think they are good friends also. They understand each other’s role really well.
Q. But they don’t have a great record in India. This is Anderson’s fifth tour of India and his numbers are ten Tests and 26 wickets at 33.46. And this is Broad’s fourth tour of India with six Tests and ten wickets at 53.90. ?
A. When they bowl in England they are familiar with the home conditions; it’s a different ball game. The ball swings around the whole day and there’s seam movement also in most of the pitches. In India the pitches help the spinners a bit more. And so, one would see the spinners bowl a lot more in comparison with the fast bowlers. Their roles also different when they bowl in India.
Q. England is scheduled to play 17 Tests this year and hence they have decided to rest even key players. Broad played first Test at Galle and did not in the second. His shoes were filled so to say by Anderson in the second Test at Galle. Your observations on England’s policy.?
A. I am not in a position to comment on England’s team selection.
Q. England beat Sri Lanka hands down 2-0 in the recent two Test series at Galle and skipper Joe Root showed the way two big centuries. Would you say they have planned well for this tour.?
A. England has always played good cricket in India and so we can’t take them lightly at all. They played in Sri Lanka where the conditions are very similar to they would find in India. But at the same time, we have a strong team, we have started playing well even overseas.
So as a group we are very confident. Moreover, we are playing home internationals after a very long time, and so all of us are looking forward to play matches at home. It’s always important to play Test cricket in India and when we have done well overseas, that confidence will help the team.
Q. England has won just one series in India for over two and half decades and that’s in 2012 when Kevin Pietersen (186) went after the Indian bowling (Ashwin, Jadeja and Harbhajan) at the Wankhede and off spinner Graeme Swann (4 for 70 and 4 for 43) dismissed you (135 and 6) and said that the particular ball must have landed on a pebble. Do you remember that.?
A. Yes, I do remember that. It was one of the best Test series I have been part of although we were on the losing side which did not help at all. If I look back at that series, I would say it was one of the best series that England have played in India.
Q. Will you share something with England skipper Joe Root about the way India went about its business defeating Australia. England is to play Australia in the Ashes series. ?
A. It’s a tough one to answer. It also depends on how they put it across. I might have a chat with him (Root), if he asks. I don’t think I would reveal much about the game plan and all that.
Q. The highlight of this calendar year is four Test matches at home against England and five during the English summer. Plus the World Test Championship (WTC) final in England. India is topping the points table now.?
A. All of us have looked up to doing well in the WTC. The moment it started we were all up for it. The guys have been very confident that we will make it to the final. We have to win a couple of Test matches to ensure that. So we have to do well in this four Test series against England.
And playing against England, in all nine Tests this year, would be a great challenge. The refreshing part is that we look forward to such challenges, whether we play at home or overseas. Yes, we want to excel against England in all these nine Test matches.
G.Viswanath, has spent watching and reporting cricket in Mumbai for over four decades. Was with India’s leading national daily ‘The Hindu’ for 36 years and prior to that for three years with ‘sportsweek’. Has covered international cricket for ‘The Hindu’ in England, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, Singapore, Holland.