I obviously deserve my place in India’s Test team: Cheteshwar Pujara

India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara has denied that there is any pressure or uncertainty over his place in the Test team, while stating that he does not need to prove anything to those outside the dressing room.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Pujara acknowledged that the Indian team management has specified what they expect from him in Tests and that he is comfortable with the strategies discussed.

“When it comes to my batting or my position, I don’t need to fear anyone else or anything. I have proved that I am worthy enough to be part of the Indian team,” said the 30-year-old, who averages 50.34 after 58 Tests. “And I have performed enough in 2017-18. I obviously deserve my place. I have offered enough to the team. My team-mates and team management have acknowledged that, so there is no pressure. I just need to focus on what I need to do.

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“When I play Test cricket I don’t think I need to compete with players who play in other formats, because this format is completely different. Whoever scores runs in ODIs, there is no guarantee that they will score runs in Test cricket. There is no comparison or competition in that way.”

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His place in the Test team, Pujara asserted, was secure. “I can’t be very specific about what my role is because there are strategies involved, but I have got clear guidelines about what I need to do. And in Test cricket it is not like ODIs, where you need to have different strategies all the time. Simply put, I just need to score runs. Whatever else I have to do, I have been told clearly and I know my role,” he said.

In the ongoing tour match between India and Essex at Chelmsford, Pujara made 1 in the visiting team’s first innings. His recent stint with Yorkshire was underwhelming, with scores of 0, 32, 23 and 17 in two four-day matches last month. Before the return to India to play Afghanistan, he managed 100 runs in eight first-class innings.

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Of his 12 dismissals in county cricket this summer, Pujara had been out bowled or lbw eight times – harking back to a familiar weakness against in-coming deliveries.

“I don’t want to try and find excuses, but there were a couple of questionable decisions where I knew I wasn’t out. As a cricketer I have never put the blame on umpires or anyone else, so I will accept those and move forward,” he said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way and you end up being given out lbw when you are not. Ultimately in the scorecards it is written as lbw. Sometimes you are lbw.I am not too worried because ultimately you will have certain weaknesses or you will get out in a certain manner. You can’t really be bothered about that. It is not that you start taking things lightly. You try and figure out a way where you don’t get out in the same way.”

During the tour of England in 2014, he tallied 222 runs in five Tests with one fifty. Asked whether an average of 22 in England weighed down on him, Pujara replied in the negative.

“Sometimes you do fail, but you don’t need to put a lot of pressure on yourself as an individual. I feel I don’t have to prove myself to anyone other than myself. And I know that I have scored enough runs there in county cricket and even for India A,” he said.

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It is not about scoring big hundreds. I would obviously love to score as many runs as possible, but if you look at the average score in England, it is not like India, where you can get three or four centuries in a five-Test series. [In England] even the top players have about two centuries and few fifties. So the average score is different from when you play in Australia, South Africa, and even in India.”

The first Test between India and England begins August 1 in Birmingham.