IPL won’t affect my preparation for tour of England: Pujara

Playing in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) will not affect my preparation for the away Test series in England or possibly a stint for an English county, India No.3 Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who returns to the IPL for the first time since 2014, said on Saturday.

Pujara was picked Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for Rs.50 lakh at Thursday’s auction. The IPL is to be played in April and May. IPL will be followed by June’s World Test Championship (WTC) final, for which India can qualify. New Zealand have qualified for the final to be played in June at Lord’s, London, in England.

“I am really glad to be part of the IPL. It is good to be back again… at the same time, I will still have enough time before we play England Test series once IPL gets over. There will be a window in which I can play a few county games [in England]. But I will take that call once IPL gets over or even midway through the IPL,” Pujara told the media on Saturday.

“But there will be enough time to play some county games and we have a couple of practice games before the Test series begins in August. So, there is plenty of time to play county games. But it is good to be back in the IPL,” said the Indian batting mainstay.

It is not clear which county Pujara would represent, though British media reports say Warwickshire might sign him. Last year, he had signed for Gloucestershire, but due to Covid he could not play.

Pujara, who starred in India’s recent Test series win over Australia Down Under with hard-fought innings on the fifth and final day of the last two Tests in Sydney and Brisbane, said he is taking one game at a time.

“I always wanted to play shorter format of the game. It is good to be part of IPL, which has produced so many great cricketers. There are some young talented players that we have got from IPL, which has helped the Indian team,” he said.

“My mind is on the Test series, once IPL gets over then I will think about County games to prepare for the big series against England. Before that we also have World Test Championship final which is in June. There will be plenty of cricket after the IPL. I am taking one game at a time. At this stage I would try to focus on next two Test matches because both the Test matches are important. At the moment, my focus is on the pink ball Test.”