South Africa is always a competitive team – Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara, the anchor that underpins the exciting Indian batting line-up, shares his thoughts ahead of the Test series against an “always competitive” South African side… and bigs up his side’s power-packed bowling lineup. FOOTAGE: BCCI

“We always enjoy playing in South Africa

“Well, South Africa has always been a competitive team. I first toured here in 2011. That was my first overseas tour. And I had a tough time. But then I had to work on my game, and I came back as a better player. When I came here in 2013, even as a team, we competed well, and I visited you again in 2017. So I’ve been here thrice so far. And I had a wonderful experience playing against South Africa, in South Africa, in South Africa, and even in India. There have been a competitive team. And yeah, we always enjoy playing in South Africa.”

Any advantage playing a relatively “Test rusty” SA Test side?
“Well, we wouldn’t think too much about whether we have the upper hand or not, we would try and stick to our game, our game plan our processes, and things which we need to do to be successful in South Africa. So because of the world Test Championship, each and every test match is important each and every series is important. So we would like to take one game at a time and then move forward from there.”

The bio-bubble can help team environment
“Sometimes I feel the bio bubble helps the team environment where you end up spending more time with the team players, you are in the team room, you are having more team dinners together. So overall, I feel that it sometimes it helps the team environment. But yes, there are some challenges as well, you are not allowed to go out. You can’t explore the country. So there are restrictions as well, but at the same time when you are getting to play some cricket, and that’s the most important thing being a cricketer, so we want to play some cricket and we are able to play cricket even in a bio bubble. So that helps.”

Our fast bowlers have been the difference
“Yes, of course, our fast bowlers they have been the difference between the two sides overall whenever we are played abroad. If you look at the Australia series, even if you look at the England series, we have done exceptionally well as a bowling unit. And I’m sure that will be the case even in South Africa. Our fast bowlers are our strengths. And I hope that they will be able to utilize these conditions and give us 20 wickets in each and every Test match.”

This is our best chance to beat South Africa
“The mood has been really fantastic. The guys have been working really hard. The good thing is we played a couple of Test matches in India. So most of the guys are in touch. And when it comes to preparation, I think the support staff has been excellent. They’ve been supporting us well. And we have five or six days more before we head into the first Test match. So I’m sure there’s enough time for us to prepare and guys are looking forward for the series. This is the best opportunity for us to win our first series in South Africa. So all of us are looking forward to it.”


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