World Test Championship

Cheteshwar Pujara: ‘My dream is to win that World Test Championship Final for India’

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Cheteshwar Pujara is satisfied but not done.

The Delhi Test against Australia is Pujara’s 100th appearance in the longest format of the game for India, but the 35-year-old has his eyes set on team achievements rather than individual landmarks.

A win in Delhi would see India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, with the prospect of a World Test Championship Final on the horizon in June, potentially also against Australia.

And Pujara says that the prospect of winning the World Test Championship (WTC) is his dream achievement as he heads into the twilight of his career.

“There's a lot to achieve but I am definitely satisfied,” Pujara said. "I am glad to be playing my 100th Test, but at the same time, we are in the middle of an important series.

“Hopefully we win this Test and move on and win another which will ensure we qualify for the WTC Finals. Yes, my dream is to win that WTC Final for the Indian team. Hopefully, once we qualify, we'll look towards that.”

Reaching 100 Tests puts Pujara in an elite group of just 13 Indian men who have reached the milestone, while he is one of just eight Indian batters to have scored 7000 or more runs in the format.

The historic moment has given Pujara the opportunity to reflect on the most significant of his knocks across that 100-Test career.

And the right-hander has picked out some slightly surprising innings in his top picks.

"The one is when I made my debut and scored 72,” he said. “I thought, that it was one of the most important innings in my career because I was very nervous. If I hadn't scored those runs, maybe I might not have played international cricket after that. That innings was special.

“Moving on from there, the 92 against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium is one of my favourites.

"Apart from that, my first overseas hundred against South Africa, I think it was Jo'burg in the second innings, 123 at Adelaide, and the last Test match at the Gabba, where I got hit on the body a few times. These are my special innings.”

And Pujara has also singled out a handful of bowlers as the toughest he has faced over the course of his lengthy career.

"Personally, as for challenging bowlers, it would be Jimmy Anderson when we are playing in English conditions,” Pujara said, naming the top wicket-taking fast bowler in Test history.

“Apart from that, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel when I was facing them in 2011 in South Africa, was tough. That was my first overseas tour and I was struggling a bit, and I spoke to Rahul Bhai about it, he was playing at the time, and he gave a few tips that I worked on my game.

“Apart from that, Pat Cummins has been one of the most challenging bowlers to face in Australian conditions."

India and current Test opponents Australia occupy the top two positions in the WTC23 standings with time running out for the pair to be denied spots in June’s Final in London.

And Pujara says that their potential Final opponents have been consistently tough to play throughout his career.

"Australia is always a tough opposition against whom we have played some very good series. England have been a challenging opponent, even New Zealand," he said.

“We have done well against all of them because as a team when someone challenges us, we know the potential we have in the team so people are willing to fight back when there is a challenge in front of them.

“We take on those challenges, and we know that if we want to be the number one Test side in the world, then we have to fight it out.”

The final of the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship will be played at The Oval in London from 7 to 11 June with a reserve day in place (12 June). 

India finished as runners-up in the first edition of the tournament, suffering a loss to New Zealand in the 2021 Final.


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