KL Rahul has been rested from the India A XI for the second unofficial Test against Australia A in order to play Virat Kohli in the Test which will be held in Chennai on Wednesday.
Indian Test captain Virat requested BCCI for match practice before him fly for Sri Lanka for three match Test series. But, Amit Mishra who made a comeback in the Indian squad for Sri Lanka tour has been replaced by Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav. Now Cheteswar Pujara will open the innings with Abhinav Mukund. Pujara in fact has opened for senior India against Australia during the 2013 home series but now with KL Rahul being rested, the Saurashtra right-hander is desperate to show the national selectors that he is ready to bat at any position.
“KL Rahul is not here and has been rested. I will be opening in place of Rahul,” Pujara said.
Pujara knows that the Test captain will also be keenly watching India A captain’s performance and he feels that Virat Kohli’s presence will help all the boys.
“Virat wanted to have a practice before the Sri Lanka tour and that’s why he is here. I was named the skipper before the series and I’m leading the team. Obviously, when I play for India A or India, it’s important to score runs. With Virat here, we have had a chat and discussed about the game and how things are going on. It will be good for me as well as for all the youngsters. They can talk to Virat and learn from him. Virat can share his ideas and how he prepares. It is a good platform,” Pujara said.
Having scored a half-century in the first Test, Pujara is looking to better his efforts. “Things are shaping up well. I have scored runs on difficult conditions. Even scoring a fifty was difficult on this track. My contribution was important in the second innings as well. When you play on difficult wickets, you don’t expect to score 200s. It’s about the team’s success. I would have loved to have a hundred under my belt.”
“But I felt good while timing the ball. The things which I had worked on has been coming together well. The weather was tough. When you are batting, you sweat a lot. You have to run between the wickets. The way you want to concentrate doesn’t happen always. At times, conditions are challenging,” said Pujara.
Pujara also defended wicketkeeper Naman Ojha’s poor show behind the wicket terming it on the nature of the strip. “He is keeping well. The wicket was tough as few balls kept low while few bounced. Naman did a good job. First catch in the first innings was a good catch. I don’t believe in comparisons. Ojha and Saha are different in their batting and keeping styles. And ultimately, who comes into the side depends upon the selectors. I don’t really believe in comparisons,” Pujara made it clear.
Apart from KL Rahul, Pujara said that Umesh Yadav and Amit Mishra have also rested for this game. Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav has come in to the squad. Pujara also said that Varun Aaron has recovered from a bout of flu and is ready to take the field.
“Aaron is fit and is ready to go for Wednesday’s game. Everyone is looking forward to it. Hopefully, we get a good game.”
However, Pujara was not exactly happy with how the Chepauk strip fared in the first unofficial ‘Test’ match where it was slow two-paced track and is hoping that a better pitch will be on offer during the second Test.
“Hopefully, it will be a better wicket where there is little more bounce. I mean it’s difficult to predict pitch conditions. It seems there is a little moisture on the wicket owing to the weather conditions. And it’s difficult to predict. It’s a different wicket as to what has been used for the last game,” he said.
He was a tad critical about the wicket provided for the last game. “Obviously, the wicket was slow and it was difficult for both batsmen and bowlers because it wasn’t coming on to the bat,” the India A skipper concluded. PTI