Pujara boost for Saurashtra in Ranji Trophy

Despite his county commitments, Cheteshwar Pujara is all set to play the first few matches in the Ranji Trophy, which begins on October 6.

Cheteshwar Pujara is in the middle of a county season with Nottinghamshire.   -  Instagram

The longer format of the game has been his forte. Over the years, Cheteshwar Pujara has made it a point to tick all the boxes to cement his place in India's Test side.

The Rajkot-based batsman has also taken domestic cricket quite seriously despite his international commitments. Although this season he travelled to the U.K. for a stint with English county Nottinghamshire, Pujara will make himself available for the first few games of the Ranji Trophy too.

As Saurashtra begins its campaign in Lahli on October 6, Pujara is expected to boost the team's batting arsenal. "He (Pujara) would be available for the first few games. We have chalked out our plans keeping him in mind," Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak told Sportstar on Thursday.

‘Temporary’ blip

The India international hasn't had a remarkable outing for Nottinghamshire so far, but Kotak believes a bit of momentum would help Pujara get back his old rhythm. "The last couple of games haven't been that good for him but these things are temporary. He is such a big player and I don't think these small things would affect him much," Kotak, one of the longest serving members of Saurashtra cricket, said.

He, however, was quick to add that the Ranji Trophy will give Pujara the much-needed batting practice before the Test series. "He will get enough opportunities before the Test series begins in November. Even if he plays just a few matches in the Ranji Trophy, the impact would be huge in the team," Kotak said, adding: "He is so consistent and committed. Whenever he plays for the Saurashtra side, he lifts the team."

Jadeja to miss out

While Pujara will be the star attraction of the side in the early days of the tournament, Saurashtra is set to miss the services of its other star cricketer, Ravindra Jadeja. With India getting busy with limited-overs cricket from next week, the all-rounder will, by all means, give the domestic season a miss.

To ensure that the team is in proper shape for the long season, Saurashtra has already chalked out its pre-season programme. After returning to Rajkot following the Buchi Babu All-India Invitation tournament, the side will be playing a few practice games against the local sides before leaving for Lahli in the first week of October. Pujara, too, is expected to join the camp after returning from the U.K.

As another season beckons, Saurashtra would be hoping to make the most of Pujara's presence in the first-leg!