Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara will turn out in the IPL 2021 edition for the first time in seven years, this time for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who bought him for INR 50 lakhs in the player auction.
Labeled as a Test specialist, Cheteshwar Pujara has found it hard to find buyers in the Indian Premier League auctions since 2014 and one of the main reasons cited for this has been his strike rate in T20 cricket.
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Pujara has played 64 T20s, making 1356 runs with one century and 7 half-centuries, but all of these runs have come at a strike rate of 109.35. Even in the IPL, Pujara has 390 runs in 30 matches at a strike rate of 99.74 with just one fifty to his name.
Teams have found it hard to pick a batsman who doesn’t make runs even at a run-a-ball speed in T20s, while even the best batsmen with solid techniques have tuned their game to achieve strike rates of over 120-130.
Speaking on the same with ESPNCricinfo, Pujara said, “When it comes to strike rate, yes, I agree that I’m not a power-hitter. But at the same time, you learn from players like Virat (Kohli). Rohit (Sharma), is not purely a power-hitter, but he is one of the best timers of the ball I have seen in the shorter formats.”
“You learn from players like Kane Williamson. Even Steven Smith. All of them score runs by just playing cricketing shots, and at the same time, they will be innovative. I also have that mindset, that if I want to be successful, I also need to be innovative, but at the same time, you can still score runs by playing cricket shots. You need to get better at generating power, I won’t deny that, but ultimately cricketing sense is what I feel will be your main strength,” Pujara added.
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He further admitted that at the start, he felt that tweaking his game for T20s and IPL, will hamper his form in Test cricket and that might have hurt his chances, but he is over that now. He thanked Rahul Dravid for his advice to get over that mindset.
“This advice I got from Rahul bhai (Dravid) long ago, but I would still like to mention it. He told me that your natural game will not change although you try playing different shots. I started playing cricket at an early age.
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I made my first-class debut in 2005-06. So it is almost 15 years now where I’ve played this game. So if I am playing the T20 format now, when I prepare for a Test series I won’t forget Test cricket. Adapting to T20 format and moving into Test cricket again won’t be an issue, for sure,” Pujara said.
“In Test cricket, there is a lot of pressure, there is a price on your wicket. But in the shorter format you just need to express yourself and play all the shots you can,” he signed off.