My dream is to win a WTC final for India: Pujara ahead of 100th Test

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara during a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: AFP/Money Sharma

New Delhi: On the eve of making his 100th Test appearance in the second match of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy series at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara revealed his next aim is to help India win a World Test Championship (WTC) final.

After winning the Nagpur Test by an innings and 132 runs, India now need to win two more matches against Australia to clinch a spot in the WTC final, to be played between June 7 and 11 at The Oval in London, for the second successive time. Australia are currently at top of the WTC standings, with India in second place.

"There is a lot more to achieve. I am definitely satisfied and really excited to play this hundredth Test match. But at the same time, we are playing an important series. So, hopefully, we win this Test match and move on to win another Test match which will ensure we will qualify for the WTC final. My dream is to win a WTC final for the Indian team, which didn't happen in the last final. But hopefully, once we qualify, we move towards that," said a determined Pujara in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

Since his Test debut in October, 2010, which came in the second Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test against Australia at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Pujara has emerged to be a mainstay in India's batting order in the longest format of the game.

As of now, Pujara has played 99 Tests, amassing 7,021 runs while averaging 44.15, including 19 centuries and 34 half-centuries. Friday will see him become the 13th Indian cricketer to join the illustrious club of 100 Tests.

"When I started playing cricket and then made my (Test) debut, I never thought about playing hundred Test matches. For me, it is always about being in the present and not thinking too far ahead. So, for me, I thought before this series started and that's when I realised that I will be playing my hundredth Test match. In a career, you always go through ups and downs, and you have to fight through those periods."

"For me, I never thought that I will play a hundred Test matches as that wasn't my goal. I have always been a player who wants to do well in every Test match and series. The Hundredth Test match is something which happens through the journey and that is something which you can't aim for. But when you continue playing good cricket, that happens," he added.

Pujara also expressed gratitude to his family, friends and coaches in various stages of his life, especially to his father Arvind, who has been his coach since childhood and will be in attendance on Friday.

"It means a lot to me and my family. My father has played a very important role in my cricketing career. He's someone who has coached me since my childhood, so he's very excited and is going to be here tomorrow with my wife, who's been very supportive."

"In a cricketer's life, family support is very important and I am very thankful to my family, friends, to the coaches whom I have worked with over some time and who have played a very important role in my cricketing career."

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