Pujara hits the nets after three months with Saurashtra teammates

Cheteshwar Pujara has been training at his academy, located in the outskirts of Rajkot, alongside Unadkat, batsman Arpit Vasavada and medium pacer Prerak Mankad.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Jaydev Unadkat during a training session on the eve of a Vijay Hazare match in Hyderabad. (File photo)   -  K.V.S. Giri

Architects of Saurashtra’s maiden Ranji Trophy triumph including Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Jaydev Unadkat are back in the nets after more than three months since they won the title in March.

Pujara has been training at his academy, located in the outskirts of Rajkot, alongside Unadkat, batsman Arpit Vasavada and medium pacer Prerak Mankad.

Compared to the bigger cities in India, the COVID-19 case load in Rajkot is on the lower side with 185 infections reported so far.

“It has been close to 10 days now. Though we were working on our fitness during the lockdown, there is no substitute to hitting the nets and it feels great. We are following all the government guidelines while practising,” Vasavada, Man-of-the-match in the Ranji Trophy final against Bengal, told PTI on Monday.

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While all professional cricketers will need four to six weeks for regaining match fitness, the task is a tad tougher for the bowlers, who are at a bigger risk of getting injured after a long break.

“JD bhai (Unadkat) also joined us recently and is gradually increasing his time in the nets just like all of us. He is bowling without using saliva on the ball (recently banned by the ICC).

“As for us (Pujara and I), we started with batting sessions of 10-15 minutes and plan to increase the intensity gradually. We have also some net bowlers who are based out of Rajkot.

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“Initially, you need some time to get your reflexes back but now batting feels normal,” added Vasavada.

With the number of coronavirus cases spiking across the country, it is tough to predict when the domestic season kicks off. It is supposed to begin in August but it looks unlikely at this stage.

The national team players including Pujara are also going though an uncertain period and don’t know when they can assemble for a training camp. Pujara’s next assignment most likely will be the tour of Australia in December.

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