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Pujara on what makes India No 1

November 12, 2019 09:21 IST

'If we keep bowling like this, we will win as many as Tests as possible.'

IMAGE: World No 1 India have won their last four Test series. Photograph: BCCI
 

The Indian team is on a roll in Test cricket.

The Virat Kohli-led team has climbed to the top of the Test rankings and also lead the ICC World Test Championship courtesy of their consistent performances in the five-day format in the last couple of years.

Following their 1-4 defeat in England last year, India turned things in around in style. They won both their series against the West Indies -- home and away, while outclassing Australia 2-1 before they whitewashed South Africa 3-0 at home in their last series.

India's next assignment is a relatively easier one -- a two-Test series against World No 9 Bangladesh, which also includes their first-ever day-night Test with a pink ball.

What makes India the big favourites is that Bangladesh have never beaten them in eight Tests played so far, including seven wins and one washed out Test.

Bangladesh's task is near impossible considering that India's last Test series defeat at home came way back in 2012 when they were shocked by England.

A confident India will hope to win both Tests and continue their unbeaten run in the ongoing ICC World Test Championships to consolidate their top position.

"A lot of credit should go to Rahul bhai (Dravid) because he has been working with the players who were part of the India Under-19 and the India 'A' teams. The bench strength has become really strong now," India's batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian.

How confident is the Indian team after back to back series wins against the West Indies and South Africa?

We are very confident.

As a team we have done well in both the first two series (of the ICC World Test Championships against the West Indies and South Africa). At the moment we are on top of the table.

We would like to play one Test match at a time and keep getting those points because every Test match gives you points which will ultimately be helpful in the World Test Championship.

The focus will be to win one match at a time and also make sure we stay focussed to keep doing the right things we did in both the series against the West Indies and South Africa.

We will be playing at home so most of the guys are experienced. Some of them have played at both venues -- Indore and Kolkata. So we will try use that advantage.

At the same time, the guys will be very well prepared since all of us are in good touch and we are doing well in Test cricket.

The ICC World Championship has brought a lot of interest to bilateral Test series. Is it exciting for the players as well because there are points at stake in every Test match that you play in?

It has made Test cricket more exciting because there is so much at stake in every match.

Every Test match is important now. There is a lot to play for, not just to qualify for the final. To get there, one has to work hard.

In the last series against South Africa when we were 2-0 up (after the first two Tests) we knew the third Test will be important.

So you can't be relaxed because you don't want to lose a Test match and lose some points. If it is a draw you have to share points.

So, every Test match becomes important. Most teams will look to win all Test matches, and not play to draw the match. Sometimes you do have to play for a draw when you are not in a winning position.

I am sure with the World Test Championships, Test cricket will stay alive.

Cheteshwar Pujara

IMAGE: Cheteshwar Pujara is keen to score as many runs as possible against Bangladesh. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

India have become very ruthless in recent times as we could see from the last two Test series.
No longer are we content to just win a match, but we look to win with bigger margins every time.
What has gone into making the Indian team such a dominating and world beating unit?

All the players are playing to their potential, all of them are working hard.

We have a good bunch of bowlers now. Even if someone gets injured we have a replacement ready to take his place, whether it is a spinner or a fast bowler or a batsman.

We have a pool of players now who are ready to play at the international level whenever called up.

A lot of credit should go to Rahul bhai (Dravid) because he has been working with the players who were part of the India Under-19 and the India 'A' teams. The bench strength has become really strong now.

When it comes to the Indian team, the guys are working really hard. They are pushing themselves to get better every time. Even if someone is performing, they will still try to better it.

Our fast bowling unit has performed exceedingly well in the last year or so, whether we are playing at home or away. It has been instrumental in India's rise to World No 1 in Test cricket. Isn't it?

To win a Test match we need to take 20 wickets and to do that you need your fast bowlers to be on top of their game.

They have been delivering with the new ball. In Indian conditions when the ball is reversing, they come back and bowl their hearts out. They have been picking up wickets at crucial times.

Our spinners have anyways been bowling, so it is a combination of both.

Our fast bowlers have been delivering whenever they have been asked to. At the same time our spinners have also picked up wickets.

Our bowling has improved a lot. If we keep bowling like this, we will win as many as Tests as possible.

You must be disappointed not contributing much with the bat in the last series against South Africa, when you hit two half-centuries but failed to carry on.
You would be desperate to make up for it in the series against Bangladesh.

I wouldn't say I would be desperate, but every time whenever I play this game, I try and make sure that I put my best foot forward and score as many runs as possible, contribute to the team's success.

I am looking forward to the Bangladesh series and score as many runs as possible.

As a team we would like to win both the Test matches and I would like to contribute in that.

Bangladesh will be without their key players -- Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal -- for the Tests. Will that make India's task easier?

What we would try and focus is on our skills and our goals and not worry about what their batting or bowling line-up is.

If we play to our potential, we know we can beat them.

HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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