INDIA star Cheteshwar Pujara is preparing to pick the brains of England Test captain Joe Root.
The Yorkshire batsman wants to tap Root’s thoughts in order to become a better player.
Pujara and Root will be team-mates for Yorkshire’s next two County Championship games, away to Essex and Surrey.
And overseas player Pujara is relishing the prospect of chatting to Root, who has been made available by England ahead of the Test summer.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with him,” said Pujara, who is available for up to nine of the club’s Championship games.
“I did meet him when I was here before at Yorkshire in 2015, and he’s a really good guy.
“I would like to learn from him and speak to him about how he prepares before a game.
“I would also like to ask him how his experience has been in international cricket so far.”
Pujara, 30, played four Championship matches for the club in 2015, but none alongside Root.
Since then, both have gone on to feature in the top-10 of the International Cricket Council Test batting rankings, with Root currently third and Pujara seventh.
Pujara played against Root when the Sheffield-born man made his Test debut against India at Nagpur in 2012.
He was immediately impressed as Root joint top-scored with 73 in the England first innings before following up with an unbeaten 20 in the second.
“He played well in that match,” said Pujara, with England securing a draw to clinch a 2-1 series victory. “He clearly had a lot of ability.
“But he’s also improved a lot since I first saw him in 2012 when he came to India with the England team.
“He’s a different player now from what he was then and has gone on to become one of the best in the world.”
Later this summer, Pujara and Root are set to lock horns in Test cricket again when India visit for a five-match series.
It will be the first Test meeting between the teams in England since 2014, when the home side won 3-1.
“We’ve almost got the same team that was there in England in 2014 but it’s more experienced now,” added Pujara, who scored 222 runs in that series at 22.2.
“When you go away from home, it’s always challenging, and I think that it will be a close series.
“It should be a great series and everyone is really looking forward to it. Hopefully there will be some good cricket played.”
One man who will be desperate for runs is Virat Kohli, who had a nightmare time of it in 2014.
Kohli managed only 134 runs in the series at 13.4 – a blemish on an otherwise exceptional record at the highest level, with the 29-year-old now averaging 53 in Tests.
There had been reports that Kohli could link up with Surrey before this year’s series, which might have seen him play against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
The latest reports from India, however, suggest that this might not now happen, with the Indian cricket board thought to want him to feature in a one-off Test against Afghanistan at Bengaluru in June.
Whatever the case, Pujara is backing Kohli to end his English hoodoo.
“I think he’s improved as a player since 2014,” said Pujara. “His overall record is quite phenomenal. Since then (2014), he’s gone to a different level, a different league.
“He’s very much motivated to do well in England this year.”
Pujara is also expected to play in the Afghanistan Test, so will briefly be leaving Emerald Headingley. There is a chance that he could return to Yorkshire later in the year following the Test series against England, while he is also available for a hefty chunk of one-day cricket for the county.
“I want to be involved in as much one-day cricket as possible,” said Pujara, who is primarily renowned for his skill in the first-class game. “My priority remains Test cricket, but I want to be part of the Indian Premier League and the shorter format for India.
“To be part of IPL or the ODI team, you need different skills.
“I’ve worked on different shots that will help me in the one-day games at Yorkshire, so hopefully I’ll be able to do well.”
There was frustration for Yorkshire yesterday as the opening day of the County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton was washed out.
It was the eighth washed-out day that Yorkshire have suffered out of a possible 12 this season, following the abandoned four-day Championship match against Essex and the abandoned three-day game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU, both of which were due to have been played at Headingley.
Umpires Michael Burns and Alex Wharf decided that no play was possible yesterday after rain intensified just before a planned 3pm inspection.
Brighter skies are forecast today, although the match is set for further interruptions.