Cheteshwar Pujara, Ranji Trophy 2018-19
Pujara says the excitement is high in the dressing room ahead of Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final. Image Courtesy: Getty

India’s number three in Tests, Cheteshwar Pujara says he is upbeat about lifting the Ranji Trophy title with Saurashtra. Meanwhile, Pujara’s 131 in the second innings against Karnataka helped his team enter the summit clash with defending champions, Vidarbha. However, there were chants of ‘cheater’ during the semifinal clash of the Ranji Trophy; as Pujara knicked twice in two innings yet stood his ground. Ahead of the summit clash, which begins on February 3rd in Nagpur; Pujara says the excitement is high in the dressing room, as they are one step far from claiming glory.

We need not worry – Cheteshwar

Saurashtra, in the past seven years, has been in finals twice, once in 2012-13 and next in 2015-16. Meanwhile, the powerhouse of India’s premier domestic tournament, Mumbai had beaten them. Pujara says the side is now an improved team and the way they had played the semis, it shows Saurashtra can clinch a victory.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara scored an unbeaten 131 in the second innings of the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 semifinal. Image Courtesy: ESPNCRICINFO

“All of us are excited. Winning the Ranji Trophy title is something that all of us are looking forward to. We were in the final twice, this time we have a good opportunity to win the final. We have a good team. Hopefully, we will continue the good performance and not worry too much about the final and play our normal games,” Pujara said.

During the semis, Pujara paired with another centurion, Sheldon Jackson for 214 runs in the second innings; which eventually saw Saurashtra beating Karnataka by five wickets. Earlier, the pair was at the crease when the scorecard read 23 for three on day four. However, Pujara and Jackson then began the recovery work and helped their team cross the winning line.

“I think we believed in ourselves. Partnership was crucial. We were under pressure when we were at 23/3. We thought a good partnership is needed. Looking at the first innings… I thought that once the ball gets old, it’s easier to bat.” he said.

We will look at the pitch – Pujara on Saurashtra loving  to bat second

In Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Saurashtra has seemed to enjoy chasing in the fourth innings. Apart from the semifinal heroics, the team had displayed great batsmanship in the quarterfinals against Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow. During the fourth innings, the same duo of Pujara and Jackson added an unbeaten stand of 136 runs.

“We’ll have a look at the pitch and then decide. Yeah, we are doing well with the bat in the fourth innings. Our openers are also doing well. Little disappointed with the way we batted in the first innings. Credit goes to our bowlers… the way they bowled in the second innings kept us in the game.”

Gautam Sodhi

I am more than just a cricket lover. I have been breathing this game since I was three, and now I am making a living out of it. Also, FC Barcelona happens to be my second love, and evidently, I prefer...