Lack of match practice a disadvantage, but we are ready: Pujara

Maybe a few extra days of preparation would have helped, but we can’t complain, says India’s batting mainstay

Cheteshwar Pujara, the senior batsman, has admitted that lack of a warm-up fixture ahead of India’s inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final versus New Zealand is a bit of a disadvantage.

Challenging times

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

“Yes, preparation time is a bit of a disadvantage maybe, but if you are ready for the challenge, even if circumstances aren’t favourable, you would do well. We are confident as a team. Maybe a few extra days of preparation would have helped, but we can’t complain. We are ready.”

India will face New Zealand at The Ageas Bowl from Friday. While New Zealand will enter the game having defeated England in a two-Test series, India has had to make do with intra-squad match besides net sessions after serving mandatory quarantine in Southampton.

Pujara insisted that India had made the most of the “centre-wicket simulation”, with batsmen trying to “spend time in the middle” and bowlers “getting used to workload”.

The veteran batsman, who is one of the leading Test-match specialists for India, stressed the WTC final is as big as a World Cup final for him.

“Personally, it means a lot to me. 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,” he said.

“Test cricket needs to survive, and a WTC format helps where every Test, every series is important. If we win, then many youngsters would want to play the Test format and be part of the final when the next cycle comes around.”

Thakur excluded

Meanwhile, India has omitted Shardul Thakur from the 15-member squad for the WTC final. The pruned squad was announced on Tuesday as per the ICC regulations.

Thakur was touted as a possible fourth-pacer option who can be handy with the bat, as he showedaced in Australia at the start of the year. However, the team management has preferred the experience of Umesh Yadav ahead of the Mumbai pacer.

The squad: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Wriddhiman Saha (wk).

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