India pace aces can trump Aussies: Pujara

Rob Forsaith
·2-min read

Australia's nemesis Cheteshwar Pujara is confident he will shake off nine months of rust before the first Test starts, also backing India's pace attack to trouble Steve Smith, David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne.

Pujara was the difference during India's maiden Test series win in Australia, batting for more than 22 hours while scoring 521 runs across the four matches in 2018-19.

It was a man-of-the-series performance Australia's attack will not forget easily and underlines why India remain a threat after Virat Kohli departs for the birth of his first child.

Test specialist Pujara is one of two players in the visiting squad who did not take part in the Indian Premier League, meaning he hasn't played a competitive game since March.

The 32-year-old, who will have two tour matches to warm up for Adelaide Oval, isn't complaining.

"This is a situation that has impacted millions of lives and people have lost lives," Pujara told the Press Trust of India.

"I am happy if I am able to practise, do my fitness, running sessions and move my body well, which I did.

"During the last tour, my preparation was good. I am confident that I will be able to repeat the same preparation before this series."

The right-hander, who is on track to pass 6,000 Test runs this summer, will be central to India's hopes of winning the series.

Potent slinger Jasprit Bumrah, who snared 21 Test wickets at 17 during India's previous visit, is another player that Australia coach Justin Langer will be analysing in depth.

Bumrah will confront a notably better batting order compared to two years ago, when Smith and Warner were both serving year-long suspensions and Labuschagne started the series outside the XI.

"No doubt Smith, Warner and Marnus Labuschagne are great players," Pujara said.

"Our bowling unit will also not be very different to what it was in 2018-19.

"They know how to be successful in Australia as they have enjoyed success there in the past.

"They have their game plans in place and if we can execute them well, they are capable of getting Smith, Warner and Labuschagne out quickly. If we can do what we have done in the past, I am sure we have every chance of winning the series again."