India news October 24, 2011

I am ready for competitive cricket - Pujara

ESPNcricinfo staff

Cheteshwar Pujara, the 23-year-old batsman who underwent knee injury in July, has said he has sufficiently recovered to return to competitive cricket. He is targeting a return to international cricket on India's tour of Australia in December this year.

"I'm quite fit now, I've been practising regularly," Pujara told Rediff.com. "I run well and I've no difficulty whatsoever with any of my body movements. I may not play the first couple of Ranji Trophy games [the tournament begins on November 3], but I'm ready for competitive cricket now.

"I'm keen, even determined, to get back on track again. I know I've to prove my fitness and then to score runs, as in the past. But I see no problem doing both once I start playing cricket. I'm sure of regaining my place in Team India and confident of making it to the Australia tour."

Pujara injured his knee in May while fielding for Royal Challengers Bangalore during the 2011 IPL and had been out of cricket since. During his rehabilitation period after surgery, he had trained under physio Nitin Patel at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. The surgery stalled his bid to secure a spot in India's Test XI. He had delivered on Test debut against Australia in Bangalore last October, hitting 72 to help India chase down 207 and seal the series 2-0. In the process, he became only the fifth Indian to score a half-century or more in the fourth innings on debut.

Pujara is known for his solid, classical technique, and the praise he received as a result had been a motivator, he said. "I feel encouraged when truly great cricketers like Gundappa Viswanath appreciate my technique and performance. This is a big motivation for me. I'm determined to make a comeback."

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