India vs England 1st Test: Cheteshwar Pujara will be huge wicket for us, says Joe Root


In awe of his ability to play long innings, England skipper Joe Root on Thursday underlined the importance of Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket and the need for batting like him during the course of the four-Test series against India. Rajkot-born Pujara proved to be Australia’s nemesis yet again in the recent four-match series Down Under, scoring three half-centuries but more importantly consuming over 900 balls. 

Root described him as a ‘fantastic’ player. “I think, he (Pujara) is a fantastic player. I had (the) pleasure of playing alongside him only a couple of games at Yorkshire and you know to learn from him, speak to about batting and his love of the game, it is really interesting,” Root said at the virtual press conference on the eve of the first Test beginning here on Friday. 

Root said Pujara’s wicket would be huge for his team. “So, having played against him as well and being at the wrong end of him, making some huge scores and been out there for long periods of time, you know you learn from those kinds of innings. 

“And you have seen his importance, the value that he adds to the Indian team, he is going to be a huge wicket for us, no doubt about that.” 

The England skipper, in fact, went ahead and said that at times, England players will have to bat long and see whether they are as mentally strong as Pujara. 

“At times, it might be we have to try our patience and play a long game and see if we can be as mentally strong as he is at the crease, when we are out there in the field. 

“We know he is a fantastic player and he has got a fantastic record in particular, so it is going to be a great challenge to come up against him,” said Root. 

Pujara, recently completed his 6,000 Test runs and has 6,111 runs from 81 Tests, with unbeaten 206 as his highest score. 

Asked how will he deal with Ashwin, Root said, “I won’t look to dominate or defend but just try and play the ball that is delivered. If I stay around for a period of time, I will score some big runs. He has got a great record in India and is probably full of confidence for that series. 

“…You know, I have played against him before and scored some runs and he has got the better of me a couple of times and it will be a little battle between the Test match. The contest that you want to get the better off,” he said. 

Root explained that risk assessment is key to playing the sweep shot. “For me, it’s about understanding playing on line or on length and understanding the surface, whether bounce is going to be an issue or the lateral movement or turn, and trying to factor all those in and calculate the risks to play in a shot.”

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Sagar Biswas

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