Ranji Trophy: Pujara back for Saurashtra in quarters

Cheteshwar Pujara will join his state team for the quarterfinal clash against Uttar Pradesh starting January 15.

Cheteshwar Pujara slammed three hundreds in India's Test series win in Australia.   -  AFP Photo

Fresh from a Test series win in Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara is in no mood for a break. The seasoned campaigner for Saurashtra is set to return to his domestic side for the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh starting January 15.

Pujara survived more than 1,200 deliveries Down Under and smashed three centuries to end the tour on a high.

“Cheteshwar coming back from Australia and playing will be a huge boost to the batting. We gave chances to a lot of young batsmen (such as Harvik Desai and Vishvaraj Jadeja) and they all have done well. If they can play with Pujara, it will be a great learning curve,” Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak told Sportstar on Thursday.

Before flying to Australia, Pujara had appeared in one Ranji game — against Chhattisgarh — and had scored 56.

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There is no clarity whether he will also take up the leadership role from Jaydev Unadkat. “Pujara arrived on Wednesday, and he is a kind of a person who always says ‘the player who will be more available should lead’.

“But that is not a concern for us right now as everybody will be happy to have him anyway,” he added.

Meanwhile, Robin Uthappa — who missed the league phase of the tournament — has started running. But it is unlikely that he will join the squad.

“He would probably want to play when he is fully fit. Since the injury was on the ankle, any cricketer will be worried as the whole body weight falls on the ankle while playing. You can’t rush into cricket from such injuries,” Kotak reasoned.

Saurashtra has no special plans for the quarterfinal. It will look to play its natural game. “Whatever we had planned, we had put in the effort in the practice sessions. Our idea was to play as a unit and everybody contributed. Our focus is to continue the flow.”

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