Saurashtra's India batsman Cheteshwar sends out strong signal to Ranji Trophy final opponents Mumbai in Pune
Pune: There are some big dreams for every cricketer in his career. Playing for the nation is obviously the premier of them all, but for the Indians, playing in a Ranji final is definitely a big one.
Saurashtra’s Cheteshwar Pujara during a practice session at the MCA Stadium in Pune yesterday. Pic/Mandar Tannu
Having played 124 first-class games, Cheteshwar Pujara is just a couple of days away from playing his first Ranji final, and the right-hander is obviously excited and motivated to do well in the season finale against Mumbai at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here from tomorrow.
Having played 32 Tests for India, and with a healthy average of 47.45, Pujara might not have a lot to prove as far as his batting abilities are concerned. But the Ranji Trophy final is a huge game, not just for Pujara, but Saurashtra as well.
Saurashtra’s 2nd final
It’s just the second ever final for Saurashtra, having lost their previous one to the same opponents three seasons ago. Pujara wasn’t part of that final, as he was away on international duty. And the No 3 batsman doesn’t want to compare that game at Wankhede to the one that gets underway on Wednesday. "That Mumbai side had Sachin paaji, Wasim Jaffer, Ajit Agarkar. We can not compare that side to the current one, although this side is quite good too," Pujara pointed out.
"Also, if you look at the history between the two sides, we have done well against them, and vice versa. We will just like to do the things that are in our control, and not worry about the opponents, or their records," he added. Pujara is one of the only two Test cricketers who will be part of the final, Jaydev Unadkat being the other. And the 28-year-old believes they both can make a difference. "Both me and Jaydev have been in fine form this season. That gives us a lot of confidence going into the final," Pujara said.
Among the runs
Pujara scored a solid hundred in Saurashtra’s 10-wicket win over Assam in the semi-finals. "Even in the quarter-final, I was batting well. I was unfortunate to get out on 47, but I knew I was batting well. And then came the century in the semi-finals. I am quite happy with the way I am batting at the moment," he added.
With the pitch at the MCA stadium expected to be seamer- friendly, it might just be the perfect setting for Pujara to deliver one of his trademark, game-setting knocks.
Whether he can score back-to-back hundreds in a critical phase during the Ranji Trophy, one will have to wait and watch.