Never thought I would play hundred Tests: Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of his 100th Test appearance

The veteran batter Cheteshwar Pujara said that he never thought that he will be playing the 100th Test match for India when he started his career and added that he hopes to lift the ICC World Test Championship trophy for his country.

Pujara has enjoyed a stellar 13-year career with India and is all set to play his 100th Test in Delhi on Friday.

The second Test of the series will be held in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium from February 17 to 21. Delhi is hosting its first Test since December 2017. India have 1-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.

Cheteshwar Pujara during pre-match press conference on Thursday. (Express Photo- Praveen Khanna)

“When I started playing cricket and then made my (Test) debut, I never thought about playing hundred Test matches. For me, it is always about being in the present and not thinking too far ahead. So, for me, I thought before this series started and that’s when I realised that I will be playing my hundredth Test match. In a career, you always go through ups and downs, and you have to fight through those periods,” Cheteshwar Pujara said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

India must win the second Test against Australia in Delhi, which begins on Friday, to maintain their lead in the Test rankings and come closer to qualifying for the World Test Championship final in June. To qualify for the final, India must win the series 3-1 or 3-0.

When Pujara takes to the field against Australia in the second Test at Delhi from February 17 onwards, he will become only the 13th player to reach the landmark of 100 Test matches for India. The most number of Test matches in cricket is played by legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who is the only cricketer to have played 200 matches in the longer format.

“There is a lot more to achieve. I am definitely satisfied and really excited to play this hundredth Test match. But at the same time, we are playing an important series. So, hopefully, we win this Test match and move on to win another Test match which will ensure we will qualify for the WTC final. My dream is to win a WTC final for the Indian team, which didn’t happen in the last final. But hopefully, once we qualify, we move towards that,” he added.

Pujara has played 99 Tests so far. He has scored 7,021 runs at an average of 44.15 in his 13-year-long Test career, having made his debut in 2010. He has a total of 19 centuries and 34 fifties in the format, with the best score of 206*. In five matches last year, he scored 409 runs at an average of 45.44. One century and three fifties came out of his bat last year, with the best score of 102*.

Pujara also expressed gratitude for the support of his friends, family, and coaches throughout his life, especially his father Arvind, who has been his coach since he was a little child and will be present on Friday when he plays in his 100th Test match.

“It means a lot to me and my family. My father has played a very important role in my cricketing career. He’s someone who has coached me since my childhood, so he’s very excited and is going to be here tomorrow with my wife, who’s been very supportive,” Pujara said.

“In a cricketer’s life, family support is very important and I am very thankful to my family, friends, to the coaches whom I have worked with over some time and who have played a very important role in my cricketing career,” said the veteran batter.

Asked about his style and approach to hitting and the way to finding success, Pujara responded that it was not simple and patience was crucial.

“Patience does not come on its own, you need mental strength for that. Preparations is the key, I scored runs at junior cricket, age group cricket. It requires hard work Over a period of time and I think when you focus on your game, eventually you will succeed,” Pujara said.

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