Sri Lanka Test series a good preparation for next year's South Africa tour: Pujara

By: PTI
Cheteshwar Pujara is not taking Sri Lanka lightly

New Delhi, November 9: India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara feels the upcoming series against Sri Lanka will present him a good opportunity to be ready for the tour of South Africa, the tougher assignment for the national cricket team.

"Obviously, next year's South Africa series is something that is there in the back of my mind. The upcoming Sri Lanka series will be a good opportunity to prepare for the South Africa assignment. I am confident of doing well," Pujara said.

Asked if he had started preparing for the South Africa series, which starts in Cape Town on January 6 2018, Pujara said: "The main preparation will certainly start closer to the series. But I believe once we assemble to play the Test series against Sri Lanka, there will be some serious discussions on the South African tour. There will be strategies and plans in place," he said.

Asked if he is keen on doing some special preparations for the bouncy pitches of South Africa, Pujara replied: "Like every series, I will be doing my own homework. There are a a few areas that I would like to work in the nets before the series. Those are very specific things. It will be unfair (for me) to reveal them as that's a part of the strategy."

Pujara had a fantastic outing against Sri Lanka few months back with scores of 153 and 133 in the first two Tests at Galle and Colombo. Sri Lanka's bowling attack too wasn't upto the mark during that series, but the Saurashtra right-hander said he will not underestimate the visiting opponents.

"I agree that during the last series, Sri Lanka's bowling attack may not have been one of the best but Test runs never come easy. You have to fight for every run that you score in longer format.

"Every series is a new one for us. Your intensity does not change according to the opposition you play. Sri Lanka is also an international side and you have to give them the same respect like any other team," added the 29-year-old, who has scored 4,107 runs in 51 Tests with 13 hundreds.

Recently, Pujara went through a lean patch in first-class cricket -- nine successive innings in first-class cricket (which includes four County matches for Northamptonshire) without a half-century -- but not for once was he worried as he felt good while batting. "I always knew that a big innings is just round the corner. When you know that you are batting well, you can feel it. It was about one good innings and it came against Jharkhand," added Pujara.

The 204 against Jharkhand made him the Indian batsman with most number of double hundreds (12) in first-class cricket, surpassing the late Vijay Merchant (11). Vijay Hazare (11 double tons), Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid (10 each) are behind him now. "Actually, I didn't know about the record while I was batting. I only came to know about it once second day's play was over. I got a few text messages and came to know that it was a national record. It was a good feeling indeed knowing that there are some great players on that list," he said.

Story first published: Thursday, November 9, 2017, 17:49 [IST]
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