Ready to bat at any position in Tests: Pujara

Mumbai, Oct 29 (IANS) With not many runs under his belt lately, India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Thursday made it clear that he is open to bat at any position in the four-match Test cricket series against South Africa starting in Mohali on November 5.

The Saurashtra right-hander managed only 64 runs in five innings in three Ranji Trophy matches recently, but his 145 not out while opening the innings against Sri Lanka in the third and final Test in Colombo in August should give him a lot of confidence.

Pujara will lead a young Board President XI side against an in-form South Africa in a two-day practice match which starts at the Brabourne Stadium here on Friday.

“I don’t know about my position in the team. Once I get into the team I will have a word with the captain and the coach and will get to know in detail what number they want me to bat at. Depending on the team’s requirement I am ready to play. Overall the preparations have been good. Whatever number I will be asked to bat I will be ready to bat,” Pujara said at a press conference ahead of the warm-up match here.

“Overall I have batted at number three, which is at times as good as opening the batting. It is not a huge difference to change the batting order when it comes to me. As I have batted at No.3 for long I have the experience of facing the new ball. So technically I do not have to do a major difference in my batting,” he added.

The 27-year-old believes leading to the crucial Test series against the visitors, the warm-up match will be an important one as it will be the same South African bowlers he will be facing in the Tests.

“Personally and as a team, the game is really important. Be it Board President XI or India A match, any match before a Test series is important as it gives you a lot of confidence and right kind of preparations you want before the series. It is important as we will play against the same set of bowlers who play the Test series,” Pujara, who has 2,218 runs in 28 Tests since his debut in 2010, said.

“Personally I am very confident ahead of the Test series. As I haven’t got big runs lately I won’t say I am out of form. I don’t think those failures will put me under any pressure. I will not have any problems and I know what I will be facing and with the experience I have, I am confident of doing well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan’s Nathu Singh who was called up in the squad for the practice match, will be the one to watch out for.

Nathu, who has played just three Ranji Trophy games was picked by the selectors. With his ability to bowl fast, he will have to prove his worth in the match.

Speaking on the 20-year-old fast bowler, Pujara said, “I think Nathu is a talented youngster. The most important thing is he is quick and can swing the ball that I have observed in the nets. He is very young and has a bright future ahead of him. These matches against top players in the world will give him a lot of confidence. Also being in this dressing room will help him grow and be a good cricketer.”

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