Cheteshwar Pujara wants 'one or two sessions' with pink ball

As India gears up for its first-ever day-night Test this month, Cheteshwar Pujara feels the trick will lie in getting used to the pink ball under lights.

Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara feels day-night Tests will help Test cricket grow.   -  Getty Images (File Photo)

 

It was not easy to bat under lights for long. But featuring for India Blue, Cheteshwar Pujara kept his cool and played a classy unbeaten knock of 256 against India Red in the final of the Duleep Trophy. That was in 2016 and pink ball-cricket wasn’t quite a popular thing in the country back then. But at the Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground, Pujara relied on his natural game to dominate the pink ball.

Three years later, as India gets ready for its first-ever day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens from November 22, Pujara is excited. He feels the only challenge will lie in getting accustomed to the pink ball. And for that, the batting ace plans to have ‘one or two sessions’ at the nets.

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In a chat with Sportstar, Pujara discusses pink ball-cricket, his expectations and strategies ahead of the Tests against the Tigers.

In 2016, you played the first-ever Duleep Trophy day-night final and went on to play a knock of 256. Three years later, as India gears up to play its first-ever Day-Night Test, what are your thoughts?

It will be exciting. When it comes to game play, once we feature at the Test level, we will have to wait and watch how the pink ball behaves on Indian pitches. When we played Duleep Trophy under lights, it was a four-day game, and now that it is a Test match, it will be slightly different I would say.

When you play at that time of the year (November 22), it would be the start of winter, so the weather will definitely play a role. Since its winter, the ball might swing a bit. It’s early to comment but it will definitely be exciting. The crowd will come in to watch the game. Since, it’s a day-night affair, people will have more time and they will not have to sit under the sun. This will help Test cricket grow. It’s worth a try for sure, and once we play this game, we will be able to give better feedback about our experiences. As far as I am concerned, my past experience has been good, but once we play this at the highest level, we will get to know more.

Even though most of the Test-playing nations have already featured in pink-ball Tests, India didn’t play so far. When you guys played long-form under lights for the first time, what were the initial apprehensions?

When we played under the lights for the first time (in 2016), the only issue we had was to get used to the pink ball. At the start of the session, it wasn’t a big issue because there was sunshine. But as the game progressed, when the lights were on, it was challenging because not many players had that experience. Once you gain experience, it gets easier. So, you need a little more time to get used to that.

When Eden Gardens hosts the first-ever day-night Test, many feel, dew will be a factor. What will be the challenges for the batsmen?

The main thing is getting used to the pink ball under lights. When it comes to Test cricket, we are used to red ball. As a Test cricketer, it is important to get used to the new ball (pink). Most of the players have played a lot under lights, but in limited overs and white ball; pink ball is slightly different. Once the game progresses, we will be able to figure out what the exact challenges are. Once we play some more games, it will get easier.

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Is there any particular area that you will be working on?

The good thing is that the format has not changed, so the batting style and the normal game-play remains the same. Only thing is that the timing is different, so I need to get used to the pink ball. Whenever there is time and opportunity, I will try and practice with pink ball. Apart from that, the strategy and preparation doesn’t change much as it’s still the same format.

You plan to practice with pink ball before the Test series begins?

Whenever there is some time. But it won’t be very soon because the first Test match (in Indore) will be a day-affair, so yes, whenever I have time. One or two sessions with it may help. I will try doing it even before the first Test match begins. Obviously, after the first Test, we will have two days of practice in Kolkata, so that should be of help.

Just like India, even Bangladesh will play its first-ever day-night Test. So, what will be India’s strategy going into the fixture?

As a team, we would like to stick to our potential and if we can stick to the way we have performed in the Test format, then we don’t need to worry much about the opposition. You do want to restrict the opposition, but you also want to focus on your goals. We have been doing well and we need to stick to those things, rather than worrying whether the opposition is strong and what are their strengths and weaknesses. As a team, we have had certain strategies and we have been doing well, so our only target will be to stick to our natural game and focus on our performances.