From Friend To Foe: Pujara Reveals County Plans For Smith Ahead Of WTC Final
Veteran India batter Cheteshwar Pujara will continue his build-up to June’s ICC World Test Championship final when he plays alongside Australia counterpart Steve Smith for English county side Sussex over the next month. Pujara has been in scintillating form for Sussex already this season, with the prolific right-hander already notching two centuries from three matches to be the leading run-scorer in the second tier of England’s County Championship.
Sussex now have the luxury of Smith joining the side for three matches ahead of June’s World Test Championship final and Pujara plans to pick the brains of the experienced Australian in his role as captain.
“He (Smith) is a great influence to have in the team and the guys will be looking forward to having him in the dressing room and will try and have a chat to him and learn from him, just to see how he prepares as he has a lot of experience,” Pujara told Sussex Cricket.
“We are all looking forward to having him here and sharing his experience as he has a lot of knowledge about the game and it will be nice to have his input, ” added Pujara
Pujara revealed he had never played in the same team as Smith, but that will all change when Sussex travel to Worcestershire for the four-day clash that commences on Thursday.
“We have spoken, but most of the time we have played against each other. It is never for the same team, so it will be exciting and I will try and get his thoughts, try and know him a little better. We will be playing WTC final (against each other), so it will be mixed feelings. On the field, we always have good battles, but off the field we are good friends,” Pujara said.
Pujara managed scores of just 8 and 15 during India’s loss to New Zealand at the inaugural World Test Championship final in 2021 and the 35-year-old will be keen to improve on those efforts in the one-off test against Australia at The Oval from June 7
The India No.3 feels like he is currently in good touch and his most recent century – a patient knock of 151 against Gloucestershire — was his best of the County season thus far.
“When I went into bat it felt slightly difficult and during my innings, I had to work hard, had to defend well and play many dot balls as well. Considering the form I was in, I got 100 in the first game, so I felt that I was batting really well,” Pujara noted.
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