Chetesjwar Pujara is a modern day great of Indian cricket but that status has never extended beyond Tests, as evidenced by his regular rejection in the Indian Premier League auctions.
Yet, he kept adding his name to the player auction list, in the hope of playing more white ball cricket. In 2021, after almost seven years of being ignored, the batsman was finally brought back into the T20 league when Chennai Super Kings bid for him at the auction earlier this year. No other franchise went for him and he was sold for his base price of Rs 50 lakh – a moment that drew applause from everyone else in the room.
Pujara last played the IPL back in 2014, when he turned out for the then Kings XI Punjab side. The 33-year-old is happy to be making his IPL comeback and is giving his best shot in preparation. It is clear he has wanted this opportunity for a long time, even though it remains to be seen if CSK will give him a game.
“To make a comeback to the IPL means a lot to me. It is the best league in the world and I have missed out on being part of it for a quite some time,” Pujara told Cricbuzz in an interview.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s recent IPL history:
Auction 2021: To CSK for Rs 50 lakh
Auction 2020: Unsold for Rs 50 lakh
Auction 2019: Unsold for Rs 50 lakh
Auction 2018: Unsold for Rs 75 lakh
Auction 2017: Unsold for Rs 50 lakh
Auction 2016: Unsold for Rs 50 lakh
Auction 2015: Unsold for Rs 100 lakh
Auction 2014: To KXIP for Rs 190 lakh.
Talking about the gesture of all franchises applauding his successful auction, Pujara said he was proud and happy because it showed the respect one gets for representing the country.
“I can’t say where I stand as a T20 cricketer but as a cricketer, I am in much better space. Having played a lot of cricket at the international level, I am very confident I will do well in the shorter format too. I feel I am part of the right setup in the IPL. That is the best thing that could have happened to me. The franchise, its captain and support staff... there are many people who can guide me to do well,” he added.
The 33-year-old is looking forward to being part of a franchise that he feels is the right fit for him and thanked CSK owner N Srinivasan and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for showing faith in him.
“I feel privileged to be part of such a franchise which respects the performance of the players for the national team. I am lucky that I will be playing under Mahi bhai who was my captain when I made international debut. And when Mr Srinivasan, who has been associated with cricket for a long time, says such things, it feels great. It is an emotional moment for me,” he said.
You can read the full interview here