Gautam Gambhir, who has last played for the Indian side in 2016 against New Zealand following which he got injured, made a surprising but rather apt comparison when he called Cheteshwar Pujara as more consistent in the Test format than the skipper Virat Kohli. Pujara has scored back-to-back centuries on India’s tour of Sri Lanka and has maintained a fantastic form since the previous Test on the home turf.
Gambhir had a rather different theory for Pujara’s success in Test cricket. He told DNA, “One thing which is really important to note is that he is playing only one form of the game. He can actually keep his mind pretty stable while playing and preparing only for five-day cricket. Had he been playing One-Dayers and T20Is as well, it would have been much more difficult for him, because sometimes you have to change your mindset. When you’re not scoring runs in One-Day cricket, you go into a Test series not with the same confidence. But when you’re playing just one format, it is easier to be consistent than someone who is playing all three formats,”
The Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain also credited county cricket for Pujara’s success, “He’s a quality player, no doubt about that, but playing only one format definitely goes in his favour. And also playing County cricket ensures that his focus is always on red-ball cricket,”
Having played county cricket himself, Gambhir details a few advantages of playing there: “It keeps you in that frame of mind of playing four-day cricket and red-ball cricket as well, which is of a lot of help when you go into a Test match. You don’t get enough red-ball cricket in India, especially when the IPL (Indian Premier League) is on. And, India play a lot of white-ball cricket. So, the only way you can get into that zone is either play county cricket or keep preparing with the red ball. But the best preparation is going to the county and getting four-day matches, also under difficult conditions because in England the ball does a lot of things. So from county cricket when you come to Sri Lankan conditions, it always gets easier.”
Gambhir also feels that Pujara has been getting little credit for what he his consistent performance, he concluded, “That’s the unfortunate thing. We don’t give too much importance to Test cricket, and that is the reason. It is all about white-ball cricket and what people do in ODIs and T20s. But yes, when it comes to red-ball cricket, he (Pujara) is right at the top. Maybe far more consistent than Kohli or Dhawan.”