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'I am conscious of my fitness now' - Pujara

ESPNcricinfo staff

August 15, 2012

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Sachin Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara were involved in a crucial stand, India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 5th day, October 13, 2010
Cheteshwar Pujara will get a chance to cement his place in the Test side when India take on New Zealand © AFP
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India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who played the last of his three Tests in January 2011 in South Africa, is eager to make a comeback to the Test side and following his injury problems, his focus is on fitness.

"I am very conscious about my fitness now. I am aware and try my best to avoid injuries," Pujara told DNA. "I have a fitness routine and I follow it religiously. It hurts when I miss a training session. The best chance to avoid injuries in cricket, where you throw yourself on the field, is by trying and following certain training programmes."

"I am following a schedule prepared by the NCA physios. I am working on strength and stability."

After making a dream debut against Australia in 2010 - where he scored a matchwinning, fourth-innings 72 - and being part of the team that later toured South Africa, Pujara was sidelined for much of 2011 with a knee injury.

Pujara had a modest Ranji Trophy season with Saurashtra last year on his return, managing only 200 runs with two half-centuries. But the recent India A tour of the West Indies - he was the top scorer with 252 runs in three matches in difficult batting conditions - renewed the selectors' faith in him and he was included for India's Tests against New Zealand.

"It feels good. I've worked really hard for this. Now that I have got my chance, I want to bat the way I did on my debut against Australia. I was also part of the squad to South Africa. I didn't get too many runs there, but it was a great learning experience. I got a feel of Test cricket in 2010 and I want to use that confidence and start all over again. Unfortunately, I was out for six months but then injuries happen. The good thing is that I am fit now. I did well for India 'A' in the West Indies."

In the first match against West Indies A in Barbados, Pujara followed up his first-innings half-century with an unbeaten 96 that helped India A to fashion a dramatic two-wicket win. He scored another half-century in the second match.

"The conditions were tough; the wickets were up and down. The ball jumped from a good-length spot and it was difficult for the batsmen to adjust," Pujara said of the West Indies series. "But I never let the conditions affect me. I backed myself and played my natural game. I knew a good tour would help me get back into the Test side."

Pujara made his first-class debut seven years ago, and since then he has amassed 4639 runs at an average of 53.32. But the New Zealand series will be an important one; he might especially be scrutinised now, with India looking for a replacement for Rahul Dravid and there often being comparisons made between the two players. But Pujara wants to just focus on his game: "I think there shouldn't be a comparison. Rahul Dravid scored more than 10,000 runs in both Tests and ODIs. And I have just started off. But I respect the faith people have in me."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

Test team on subcontinent pitches: Gambhir, Sehwag, Pujara, Sachin, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zaheer, Yadav, Ojha

Posted by QingdaoXI on (August 17, 2012, 8:13 GMT)

India should start playing with this team. Gambhir, Rahane, Pujara, Rohit, Kohli, Pathan(If wants to Play Batsmen than Rayudu), Kartik/Saha (Dpending upon form) Ashwin, Umesh, Aaroon, Ojha/Awana(Depending upon conditions). Zaheer shoulde used frequently if have fitness in important series for next 3 years. Tendulkar should only play vs strong oposition same he do's in ODI's. Kaif should be there in Squad to Replace Kohli/Rohit with next in Line Mandeep Singh, Surya Yadav for middle order and Chand for openign slotin case of injury. Tyagi, Kulkarni, Nechim and Sahmmi Ahmed should be groom as back-up pace battery and in this IF sreesanth and Ishant get there form back they should be in contention same for bhajji in spin dept and Praveen in swing dept.Appana, rahul and Iqbal and Jalaj Saxena as spin reserves.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

As per Me Team Should Be 1.Gambhir 2.Viru 3.Kohali 4.Sachin 5.VVS 6.Pujara/Raina?rahane 7.Dhoni 8.Ashwin 9.Zahir 10.Ojha 11.Yadav.

2 Spiners ..2 fast bowlers...2 part time bowlers Viru & Kohali.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (August 17, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

@ExplicitPlatinum, please take our batsmen, especially Statchin Selfishkar, and give us an Akram or a Waqar anyday. As an Indian, I can tell you that I wouldn't think for a second if Akram wants to be part of our team. I wish we had bowlers like him, Abdul Qadir or Ajmal or Waqar.....the list of Pakistani bowlers goes on and on......

Posted by mrmonty on (August 17, 2012, 0:13 GMT)

@ExplicitPlatinum, I am sure the feeling is mutual for Indian fans, when it comes to bowlers. They would kill for your B-class test bowlers like the Samis, Aaqib Jaweds, Iftikar Anjums, Ijaz Cheemas.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (August 16, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

All the very best to Cheteshwar 'Rahul Dravid' Pujara. What a promising batsman he is!

Posted by   on (August 16, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

Pujara will be the key player to watch out in this upcoming series against the Kiwis. He has shown what he's got. He just needs to prove him again in this home series and he has a good chance to prove himself in a batting friendly pitches in India. He looks promising to fill the empty spaces of the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. Wishing him good luck and I want him to score in this series.

Posted by rahuldravid_mr.cricket on (August 16, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

my future indian team:TEST-1) SEHWAG2)PATHAN3)GAMBHIR4)PUJARA5)KOHLI6)ROHIT/TIWARY7)DHONI8)ZAHEER AND D 3 IDIOTS...ODI-1)GAMBHIR2)UNMUKT3)KOHLI4)YUVRAJ5)DHONI6)RAINA7)PATHAN8)ASHWIN9)PRAVEEN10)ZAHEER11)A SPINNER(LEG SPINNER BUT NOT TIWARY)

T20-1)RAHANE2)GAMBHIR3)KOHLI4)YUVRAJ)5)RAINA6)TIWARY7)DHONI8)PATHAN9)ASHWIN10)DINDA11)BALAJI...PLUS I WANT BHATIA AS WELL..HE IS 2 GUD...BUT I DONT KNOW WHERE 2 FIT HIM IN DIS LINEUP...BUT DIS WILL B D BEST SQUAD FOR ALL FORMATS...SUCCESS WILL B GUARANTEED 100%...DEY WILL LOSE INITIAL MATCHES....BUT WILL B BCK ON WINNING TRACK....CRICINFO PLZ PUBLISH DIS FOR FUTURE BCCI SELECTION MEETING...I M JUST FED UP OF DESE GUYS..

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 16, 2012, 3:13 GMT)

I guess we now got a golden chance to use Mr.Sehwag as a middle order bat and try that option.. Even Sehwag wishes for that.. Why not a 11 like Gambhir, Rahane, Kohli, Sachin, Laxman, Sehwag followed by keeper/bowlers.. As of now, Viru would be the best bet to bat with the tail.. He can just smash it without worrying about the new ball stuff.. And to add, the bowlers and fielders might be tired if top order can get their act together..

Posted by wolf777 on (August 16, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

India should start thinking about playing Irfan Pathan as an allrounder instead of six specialist batsmen. Most of the time Indian bowling attack is over-bowled and tired. By playing only four specialist bowlers, Indian pace bowlers have to shoulder heavy work load which kills fast bowlers.

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