Cheteshwar Pujara led Rest of India (ROI), on Tuesday, cruised to a win over the Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat in the Irani Cup 2017. At one stage, ROI were four down on 63, but then came the moment when two of the senior players of the Indian cricket team, Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha came to the crease and rowed the stagnated boat of ROI over the finishing line, to retain the cup.
Pujara was quite amused with the performance of his team and discussing the ups and downs in the game, he said:
“All in all it was a very good game of cricket. Gujarat played really well. We were always under pressure starting from the first innings. They got runs on the board, 358 in the first innings (but) probably they were also under pressure when they lost six wickets early. However, Chirag Gandhi batted really well and they came back into the game. We didn’t bat well in the first innings so we were behind them. Credit goes to our bowlers for restricting them to 246 (in the second innings). When we were chasing a total below 400 (379 runs), psychologically we had that advantage. We knew that on this wicket we could chase this total. (Also) in last year’s Irani Cup match Rest of India chased down 480 runs so we were very confident when we went in to bat. We didn’t get off to a good start, but Saha and my partnership (316 runs) were crucial for us to win this game.”
Wriddhiman Saha had a great role to play in this win as he scored a double century and pressed his claim for a comeback in the Indian team.
“When he (Saha) came in to bat (at 63/4) he told me that he is going to take on the bowlers; hit the balls which are on the fuller lengths. I told him ‘yes, you probably have to bat that way,’ because we wanted to unsettle the bowlers. And at the other end, I was there to see that we didn’t lose any more wickets and hit the loose balls. So he kept on going; he kept on hitting the bowlers and then they didn’t know what to do.”
Saha was eyeing to dominate the bowlers right from the first ball as he was hitting every opportunity coming at him. He went on to add 80 more runs to his Monday’s total when the team needed 113 more runs to clinch the title.
Further, Pujara credited his success to the runs he scored in junior and domestic cricket.
“I think the number of runs I have scored in junior cricket and then moving on to first-class cricket (has built it). When I keep scoring big and once I get that temperament, I get that concentration to keep on playing the long innings.”