Ranji Trophy: Huge plus to have Pujara from start, says Unadkat

India No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara will bolster the confidence of Saurashtra as it prepares for the Ranji Trophy opener against Himachal Pradesh in Dharamsala.

The Saurashtra team is benefitting from seniors like Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara.   -  Vivek Bendre

Since the 2012-13 season, Saurashtra has appeared in three Ranji Trophy finals but it is yet to win the title. The presence of Cheteshwar Pujara from the first round could turn its fortunes in the new season starting on Monday. Saurashtra will start its Ranji campaign against Himachal Pradesh in Dharamsala.

“Our batsmen are much more confident when Cheteshwar is around. It is a huge plus to have him from the beginning, not just as a player but also for the kind of inputs he provides. The guys are in high spirits,” Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat told Sportstar on Saturday.

Unadkat stressed that Saurashtra’s strength lies in four-day cricket. The side had a 10-day camp to sharpen its knives. “If you try and do well from the start of the season, it helps. People can slowly settle down and get used to the format. We have a balanced squad,” he added.

Till Saturday evening, Karsan Ghavri — the new head coach of Saurashtra — wasn’t around. Assistant coach Niraj Odedra has been monitoring the proceedings.

“He [Ghavri] was part of the pre-season camp but he had to go back for some personal work. Niraj is taking care of things in his absence at the moment,” Unadkat confirmed.

Even Pujara hasn’t joined the squad yet. He is expected to report on Sunday. 

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