A maiden Test century on return to the Indian team, back-to-back hundreds in the 50-over Challenger Trophy and two domestic titles as captain - these are all good signs for Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of the upcoming Test series against England starting November 15. Cricketnext spoke to the new go-to man of Indian cricket, who slipped into the big shoes of Rahul Dravid with relative ease and is now at the threshold of making into the shorter formats.
Congratulations on leading Rest of India and India B to title wins. Are you enjoying the role of a captain?
To win games and titles it's a different feeling and always it is a pleasure to lead the side and win the tournament. Apart from my captaincy I'm batting well and it is not affecting my game at all. I would rather say I'm performing to the best of my abilities and it is a great feeling.
Cheteshwar Pujara who slipped into the big shoes of Rahul Dravid, spoke to Cricketnext ahead of England series.
You scored successive centuries in the Challenger Trophy. Did you want to make a statement or were you just determined to do better in the one-day format?
The thing is, I have been doing well in the one-day format even when India A toured England in 2010. I was the leading run-scorer against England Lions and West Indies A, with two hundreds. I have been scoring in the one-day format and I have proved that I can play one-day cricket. Though still I have to prove myself in Twenty20s as I have not given any noticeable performance, I believe I can do well here too. I hope to do better in a couple of year’s time.
You have established yourself as a Test batsman. Are you considering of breaking into India’s ODI and T20 squad?
My aim is to play all formats of the game. I enjoy playing the game, but the Test format is the ultimate. I have been working on improving my game in both these formats, as I said earlier, and will get my opportunity soon.
Are you hopeful of making the ODI squad for the upcoming England series?
It is not my job. It is up to the selectors and they are the best judge. I have performed well in the Challenger Trophy, they have seen that and they know I have the potential. But it's all about waiting for the right time because at times all the players are doing well and you can't drop or you can't have a replacement. At times there is no vacancy. I will wait for my opportunity. I'm not in any hurry and don't want to delay anything also but everything will take its own pace and I just have to keep performing. If I keep doing that I will get my chance sooner or later.
The England series clashes with the Ranji Trophy. Do you have plans of playing for Saurashtra?
If it is in my hands I would definitely play a couple of games before the England series. But it depends on what the team scheduling is and it will be a collective decision. If all the players are allowed then I would definitely play. If we have a camp to attend then it will depend on the team decision.
How do you react to the Rahul Dravid comparison?
It is a wrong comparison to make because he has scored 10,000 runs in Tests and ODIs. It is not right to compare myself with him. I'm just starting off my career and I'm happy that it started off well but I still have to perform well.
Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years?
I haven't thought that far ahead because I'm taking it one game at a time.