June 1, 2023
Lack of warm-up fixtures 'a bit of a disadvantage', says Cheteshwar Pujara


“Test cricket needs to survive, and a WTC format helps where every Test, every series is important”

The absence of a correct warm-up fixture for India within the lead-up to the WTC remaining is a “bit of a disadvantage”, however the crew is completely happy simply having the ability to play cricket in a pandemic-hit world, in keeping with Cheteshwar Pujara.

“It is (a disadvantage), but this is something we can’t control,” Pujara stated in a media interplay on Tuesday. “These are challenging times in the world because of the pandemic, and you can’t have the luxury for extra preparation time. But the most important part is the game is still going on and that we’re playing a final.

“Yes, preparation time is a bit of a drawback perhaps, however should you’re prepared for the problem, even when circumstances aren’t beneficial, you’d do effectively. We’re assured as a crew. Maybe a few additional days of preparation would’ve helped, however we will not complain. We’re prepared.”

Nothing beats match time, and while India haven’t had any, New Zealand have just finished a two-Test series against England – and won it 1-0.

India spent two weeks in quarantine in Mumbai before arriving in the UK on June 3. Over the past three days, the team has taken part in match-simulation exercises, apart from their regular fitness sessions in batches. Pujara said that the first few sessions upon arrival in the UK were simply about “getting again into rhythm” to shed the quarantine hangover, but they have since amped up their intensity.

“We’ve utilised the time rather well,” he said. “Even through the centre-wicket simulation, we had some follow wickets accessible. When within the center, you wish to guarantee stuff you’re engaged on within the nets to return alongside.

“For bowlers, it was important to get used to the workload again. They would have bowled 14-15 overs in the entire game, which is very important for their workload. For the batsmen, it was about spending time in the middle, having the discipline of leaving balls, playing shots you would in a game. So being in the middle and having match scenario is very important.”

As a one-format participant, for Pujara, the WTC remaining is as huge because it will get, like another international event remaining. “Personally, it means a lot to me,” he stated. “This is the first time we are in a WTC final. We have worked hard over a period of time. It’s just like playing in a 50-over or T20 World Cup final.

“Test cricket must survive, and a WTC format helps the place each Test, each collection is vital. If we win, then many kids would wish to play the Test format and be half of the ultimate when the subsequent cycle comes round.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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