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"Great news for Team India": Former chief selector on Pujara's form in County Championship ahead of WTC Final

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New Delhi | May 26, 2023 8:10:16 PM IST
Former chief selector of the Indian Cricket Team MSK Prasad said that Cheteshwar Pujara's brilliant run of form in the ongoing County Championship in England is good news for Team India ahead of the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia.

The World Test Championship final will be played on June 7 between India and Australia at The Oval.

Cheteshwar Pujara is been playing County Cricket in England. His brilliant form at the County Cricket is a positive sign for team India.

"His form in County Championship is great news for Team India. He is practising in English conditions and getting to know it. His strength is to occupy the crease as much as possible and hold an end steady after some quick wickets. I am sure his runs will not go to waste," Prasad said in an interview with ANI.

Pujara is currently the highest run-scorer in Division Two of the Championship, having scored 545 runs in eight innings at an average of above 68, with three centuries and a fifty. His best score is 151 across five matches.

Pujara was in fine form for Sussex last year as well. In eight matches last year in the Championship, he scored 1,094 runs at an average of 109.40. He scored five half-centuries last year, with the best score of 231.

He was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the division behind Wayne Madsen (1,273 for Derbyshire), Haseeb Hameed (1,235 for Nottinghamshire) and Sam Northeast (1,189 for Glamorgan).

Pujara also performed really well in the One-Day Cup last year. In nine matches, he scored 624 runs at an average of 89.14 and a strike rate of 111.62. He scored three centuries and two half-centuries and the best score of 174. He led his side to the semi-final of the tournament as a skipper.

Prasad also backed Rahane's return to the side for the mega Test, saying that youngsters like Sarfaraz Khan will have to wait for their chances despite scoring big in domestic cricket. He also said that experience matters in such big matches and backed Rahane's veteran status in international cricket.

"It is good that new players are coming up. But Rahane is a proven player for India in overseas conditions, he has centuries in England and Australia. He won a series in Australia as a captain. For such mega events, you need experience. It is not only about your runs but how you handle pressure and play your innings. Sarfaraz will have to wait for his chances. I am sure he will get his chances if he continues it for a year or so. There are so many players who scored many runs in domestic cricket like Subramanian Badrinath, Amol Muzumdar etc, but had to wait for their chances," said Prasad.

Rahane has a decent record in England across all formats, having scored 1,148 runs in 26 matches, 40 innings at an average of 29.43. He has two centuries and seven fifties in English conditions, with the best score of 106. In Tests in England, he has scored 729 runs in 15 matches, 29 innings at an average of 26.03, with a century and five fifties.

Rahane last featured in Tests for India in January 2022 and has since been out of favour in the red-ball setup. Before being dropped, Rahane had a horrendous 2021 where he scored just 479 runs in 13 Tests at an average of 20.82.

His last Test century came at the MCG in the memorable Border-Gavaskar series of 2020/21 where he captained India's comeback after the dismal 36 all out.

Injury to Shreyas Iyer meant that there was a void to be filled in the middle order and India has backed his experience for the one-off Ultimate Test.

His performances in the Indian Premier League so far as well as his domestic showings have paved the way for a comeback into the side.

Playing for Chennai Super Kings, Rahane has been handed a new lease of life, scoring 299 runs in ten innings at a stunning strike rate of 169.88. He has scored two half-centuries for the side so far.

Prior to the IPL, he went back to the drawing board in Ranji Trophy and returned 634 runs in seven matches for Mumbai, which included two centuries. (ANI)

 
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