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Cheteshwar Pujara sets sights on Indian Premier League contract, ODI cricket return

International Business Times logo International Business Times 5 days ago
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Test specialist and limited-overs discard Cheteshwar Pujara has expressed confidence he will be able to return to the Indian One Day International (ODI) team and bag an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract soon.

Pujara has played only five ODIs and has not donned the blue jersey for India since June 19, 2014.

Despite having been a key member of the Indian Test squad ever since his debut in 2010, the Saurashtra batsman does not enjoy the same stardom his Team India colleagues enjoy in the IPL.

Notably, he has not featured in the cash-rich T20 league since 2014 as he went unsold in four successive IPL auctions, including the two-day event that was held in January.

Pujara's inability to shift gears in the limited-over formats has always been a concern. His strike rate reads a below-par 99.74 in his 30-match IPL career.

However, the 30-year-old, who has been spending time in England with Yorkshire, looks at using the upcoming Royal London One-Day Cup stint to reignite his limited-over ambitions.

"I have worked a lot to be part of the IPL and the shorter formats, especially one-day cricket. I want to be part of the Indian team in ODI cricket and, as I say, the IPL," Pujara told The Yorkshire County Cricket Club's official website.

"My priority remains Test cricket. But to be a part of the ODI team, you need to have different skills. I have worked on shots, which will definitely help."

Don't have to change massively: Pujara

Pujara failed to impress in his second County stint for Yorkshire as he managed only 100 runs from eight innings over the last few weeks. His top score of 41 came against Essex earlier this month.

Nonetheless, Pujara banks on his limited-overs form for Saurashtra earlier this season to deliver for the Yorkshire Vikings in the upcoming 50-over domestic tournament. The top-order batsman had scored 383 runs in nine matches, including a 94 in the final against Karnataka.

"I played nine games for Saurashtra in February. My form was good. We were also playing on challenging wickets where the average score was about 220. I was still able to score runs. I am very confident my game can adapt to the shorter formats," Pujara said.

"I don't have to change massively. I think the basics remain the same, and in ODI cricket you have five fielders inside the circle for the whole 50 overs. Once you are in, it's easier to play your shots with the white ball," the Test specialist added.

Pujara has been one of the pillars of Indian Test team over the years. The right-hander, who has Rs 5-crore Grade A BCCI contract, will be key to India's chances in their five-Test series against England, starting August 1.

Pujara had struggled during India's 2014 tour of England, managing only 22 runs in five matches at 22.20. However, with a couple of county stints under his belt, the seventh-ranked Test batsman is expected to dominate the English bowlers in their own backyard.

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(Video by ESPN Cricinfo)

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