Warrior Pujara gears up for 50th Test, India eye series win

Warrior Pujara gears up for 50th Test, India eye series win

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 02, 2017 15:52 hrs
Cheteshwar Pujara hones his catching skills ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka

Colombo: After registering a thumping win at Galle, a dominant Team India will take on Sri Lanka with the series at sight. The second Test is of significant importance and it's all the more special for India's Test match specialist, Cheteshwar Pujara.

Colombo has been the venue where Pujara turned his Test fortunes and went on to become one of the batting pillars in the team.

During the third Test in the 2015 Test series against Sri Lanka, Pujara scored a brilliant unbeaten 145 hundred and reignited his career. From then, there was no looking back for the Saurashtra batsman.

In a stellar Test career of 49 matches, the 29-year-old has scored 3942 runs at an average of 53.27. He has scored 12 centuries, with a top score of 206*.

"Playing the 50th Test match for the country, it will be a proud moment for me. When I started playing cricket, I thought that Test cricket is something I always wanted to play. And, when I have to represent India for the 50th Test match it will be a proud moment. I want to keep performing and continue improving as a cricketer. I am confident that I can add few more shots in my batting. One of the most challenging times of my career was when I was out for six months; I got injured again in 2011 and didn't play for an year. So, that I don't catch any more injuries. But obviously you cannot guarantee anything," Cheteshwar Pujara.

While Pujara is all set for his 50th Test match appearance, an in-form India will look to inflict another defeat on Sri Lanka. India scripted a rampaging 304-run victory in the first Test with opener Shikhar Dhawan making a strong case for himself with regular openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay left out injured.

The Delhi southpaw smashed a 168-ball 190 in the first innings to steer India to a mammoth total of 600 and take a firm grip of the match which eventually they never let go.

Dhawan was adjudged Man-of-the-Match and that leaves skipper Virat Kohli with a happy problem of plenty pertaining to the opening slot.

Abhinav Mukund also scored a crafty 81 in the second essay which had Kohli's unbeaten 103. Rahul, who laid low in the first Test with viral fever, has now recovered and if he is successful in proving his fitness for this Test, the toss-up will be between Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund for the second opener's slot.

It is unlikely that Mukund will get a look in owing to Dhawan's form.

India will look to bank on batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who at No 3, has shown tremendous consistency with his 50th Test cap in the last game, scoring 153 off 265 balls.

On Hardik Pandya's Test debut, the all-rounder notched up a half century in the first essay and in just three overs given to him, scalped a wicket of Nuwan Pradeep.

The Indian spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin got on to the act again, taking six wickets between them in the second innings to wipe off any resemblance of a challenge from the hosts.

For the hosts, it will be an uphill task ahead. The good news is that their skipper Dinesh Chandimal has recovered from pneumonia and will be available for this game.

Chandimal had put the Indian attack to the sword with a blistering 162 off 169 balls at Galle in 2015 and will look to repeat more of the same here.

In the bowling department, Nuwan Pradeep was the only positive the island nation can take from the first Test as the pacer took six wickets in the first essay and bowled really well.

Squads:

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha(wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Rohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(captain), Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wicketkeeper), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Malinda Pushpakumara.

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