Pujara calm about indifferent form
While the attention during this A tour has been on Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir, another India Test player hasn't had the best of times of late. As captain, Cheteshwar Pujara paid the price for putting West Indies A in on a turning track in Mysore, and as a batsman he hasn't yet scored a fifty in the series. This is not familiar territory for him, but Pujara isn't too worried.
"I didn't perform to what I have been expected and what I personally feel that I should have done for the team," Pujara said. "But you learn from your failures, and it's good that I am failing before the Test matches so that I have got enough time to prepare. There is another game, so I am looking forward to this game. I am working hard in the nets and I hope that I will be able to perform in the crucial game."
India A trail 1-0 going into the final unofficial Test so the onus will be on them to make amends. There is, however, a bigger context to every A match. While the other three are trying to make a comeback, this might be the last first-class match Pujara gets before a busy Test season. Pujara has his eyes set on those, his first sustained test away from home. "These matches will be challenging," he said. "Each country will have different conditions. Obviously if the South African tour is there, the good thing for me is that I have played two Test matches over there. I know how the conditions are, how to score runs, what kind of changes I have to make in my technique.
"I haven't been to New Zealand but I have heard that there is a lot of wind over there. Whatever matches we are going to play abroad, I am very excited about that because it's always important for a good player to perform in overseas conditions."
Preparation for bigger tests, people trying to make comebacks, and others trying to catch the selectors' eye, it all has to be balanced with the need to win the match and level the series. Individual ambition is always good for team goals, but sometimes smaller games can become a vehicle for the expression of an individual. Pujara said there was no chance of that happening.
When asked if he would contemplate delaying a merited declaration if one of the comeback boys was nearing a century, "I don't see such kind of situations coming up. In case it does come up, you obviously take a call with the team's benefit in mind."
India A will go into the match with Mohammed Shami, who has been called up to play the limited-overs internationals against Australia. West Indies A are most likely to be without Fidel Edwards who injured his back after bowling four overs in the last game. The pitch wears a green look, but that is to counter the inherent slow nature of the surface. The toss in such a scenario might just be crucial.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo