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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 on (August 16, 2012, 7:34 GMT)



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.

Posted by ExplicitPlatinum on (August 15, 2012, 22:46 GMT)

@Jose Puliampatta You want Dhoni to retire? Seriously? He's only 31 and can still play. The same with Sehwag to some extent.

Posted by mrmonty on (August 15, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

Why does every post on Cricinfo devolve in to a plebiscite on Sachin Tendulkar? Who is the replacement, then? Rahane? He has an IPL century to show for himself! Did you guys watch the same series that I did during the Australia tour, where Sachin seemed like the only Indian batsman that knew where his stumps were! But, I am digressing. Good luck to Pujara. You look like only the second guy (after Kohli) with stomach for Test fight.

Posted by ExplicitPlatinum on (August 15, 2012, 19:10 GMT)

As a Pak fan, it does make me feel a bit sad that Pak batsmen cannot hold a bat. ALL Indian cricketers (Even Indian bowlers) can hold a bat the day when they were born. The regular hundreds from each batsmen and the box office hit fanclub of each batsmen is vast. One day Kohli makes a hundred, the next day it's Sehwag, then it's Gambhir etc. I just wish we had batsmen like India.

Posted by Nampally on (August 15, 2012, 18:39 GMT)

I think C.Pujara is one of the rare technically sound player in the indian squad best suited for Test matches. He has intense concentration & patience to go with his technique & talent. Indian Selectors must make Pujara an integral part of the Test XI - a replacement for Dravid. Apart from injuries, politics also kept Pujara from getting into the Indian squad ahead of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rahane & Tiwary. Now that he is physically fit & ready to go he should be given a fair trial. India now has in Kohli & Pujara, 2 reliable batsmen who can play #3 & 4. In U.Chand, India also has a future opening batsman. He should be carefully watched & when ready included in the squad. These 3 will be ideal replacements for Dravid and for Sehwag, Tendulkar when they retire. India should also be grooming a new captain to replace Dhoni in Tests from the younger generation.If pujara proves himself in batting, he will be an ideal choice for with already proven experience for India U-19 & India A.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

Gambhir Sehwag Kohli Sachin Laxman Raina Dhoni Irfaan Ashwin Zaheer Yadav

Posted by Riderstorm on (August 15, 2012, 17:26 GMT)

Just to give an alternative to the rumored team with Pujara at No.3 and Kohli at No. 5/6. I propose we try gambhir at No.3, given that he's been a opener with enough global exposure and temperment necessary to play the sheet anchor role (he did that numerous times already) might bring necessary stability at No.3 instead of jumping for a youngster without any intl. experience. Also, the opening combination hasn't been doing that well for that last couple of years. With sehwag aging and fading, its time we try a new opening combination and what better place than home. It's a long shot considering the conservative nature of team selections. But, I believe it's worth a try playing gambhir at no.3 (crucial position and needs experienced individual in this transitional phase of indian cricket).

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 16:49 GMT)

I think India's squad after sachin and laxman retire should be: Sehwag, Rahane, Gambhir, Kohli, Pujara, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Irfan,Ashwin, Zaheer, Aaron. Or u can replace Rahane for either rohit or raina at no.6.

Posted by ravikiran.bits on (August 15, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

@tanstell87 very sad order it is..sehwag is good at No.1 or he is of no use.. we need a batsmen who can save his wicket and play good shots at that position. according to me Kohli will be our future No4. i dont think rahane either can make up into our team. By the time they retire may be rohit will get back into the team and he will be at No 5 or 6.

So gambhir sehwag pujara kohli yuvraj rohit dhoni and so should be ideally

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

playing xi--

Shewag Gambhir pujara tendala laxman koheli dhoni ashwin zaheer yadav ishant

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

In tests, at least till they retire, Tendulkar, Laxman & Sehwag should be our "MIDDLE ORDER"!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 16:18 GMT)

We also need to be on the lookout for the replacements for Zak & Dhoni. ( Exit queue: Laxman, Zak, Sachin, Sehwag, Dhoni). Getting replacement for 5 batsmen (including the one for Dravid) is tough. Will look like an entirely new batting line-up. Currently, I am sure only about Gambhir & Kohli; no one else! All the rest are just "trials & errors". Including bowlers, of all variety. Does BCCI and its selectors, have a well thought out and phased plan? One wonder!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 16:09 GMT)

@tanstell87. Who is your suggested replacement for Sehwag? He also may have to be replaced, if he continue to display that attitude... "That's the way I play, Take it, or leave it". If so, we may have to take his "leave it" option!

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

Indian Best Test and ODI Team as follows - Gambhir-Rahane-Pujara-Sehwag-Kohli-Yuvraj-Dhoni-Ashwn-Ishant-Yadav-Aaron

Posted by 777aditya on (August 15, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

It is heartening in the way Pujara humbly brushes off comparisons with Dravid. He should not get too ahead of himself. If such a talented batsman was not enthusiastic about his fitness earlier, it is a shame for the coaches monitoring him. Hopefully, he will score by tons in tests and become a permanent fixture in ODIs as well, ala Kohli.

Posted by wolf777 on (August 15, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

If your name is not Nohit Sharma, then you don't have 'talent'. Despite the number of runs you may score, you will get limited chances because you don't make it look easy. The fact that you don't make it look 'graceful' when you nick behind the wicket, means you are not good to get as many chances. If you change your batting and start playing every ball lazily late and make it all look elegant and graceful, then that is a different story altogether. You may get to play 70-80 Tests without scoring much… Well, good luck for the limited number of chances you will get from the team management.

Posted by ProdigyA on (August 15, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

I think this NZ tour is ideal to test most of the youngsters who could be potential Sachin's and Dravid's of the future. I really think Sachin, Sehwag, Dhoni and VVS must be rested for this series and make it an out and out young Indian team. Good luck to Pujara and hope he does not become another Rohit Sharma.

Posted by tanstell87 on (August 15, 2012, 12:36 GMT)

Pujara is ideal at number 3.....once Tendulkar & Laxman decide to call it quits Indian test team will look something like this - Gambhir-Rahane-Pujara-Sehwag-Kohli-Yuvraj-Dhoni-Ashwn-Ishant-Yadav-Aaron

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

Pujara is good...performed alone against West Indies A recently....Ofcourse his talent will supply some medication to dyeing Indian test team

Posted by tanstell87 on (August 15, 2012, 12:34 GMT)

@sachinkhairnar - guess you have been following Indian cricket since last 2-3 years....after giving 22 years for a team ,a country Sachin Tendulkar has every right to retire when he wants to....we are nobody to ask him to retire...he has every right to choose which series he would play or not play...he has achieved this after giving 33-34 of his life to this game....Pujara should bat at 3 & Kohli should bat at 6 & yes Laxman & Tendulkar should play at 4 & 5 in coming series....2 bad series doesnt make this two bad...Since 2001 India were number 2 test team in world cricket...only Australia fared better in comparison to India in abroad test matches...Laxman in all probability will retire after playing 10 tests...if he fails in first 4(2 v NZ & 2 v Eng) then he may retire himself....& who will take his place...Rohit & Raina are poor...maybe Rahane or Yuvraj !

Posted by rustyryan on (August 15, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

Pujara is jus over-rated based on his first class average. He became a walkin wicket for Styen in the South African series. Its gonna be tough for him to get into the test side as Dhoni mit favor Raina over him.

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 15, 2012, 12:03 GMT)

Pujara looks good for Dravids slot. India should also look to groom new openers. Another area where we collapse when playing outside India. So far Chand looks okay for one slot in the future. Irfan should be tried out for this role. Pujara has good height so much similar to Dravid. Badrinath should also be tried out in the middle order. Its time we discard players who have failed as openers - Gambhir, Shewag. Also players like Rohit and Raina are more suited for ODI than tests.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 15, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

Having seen him make those 72 runs for India in Bangalore against Australia which enabled the team to achieve a difficult chase in the Test, I was convinced that he had the skills to succeed at the highest level. His next 2 tests were in South Africa against the best pace bowling attack in the world. He did not score too many runs on those two occasions in very difficult playing conditions. But he played long and was able to play Steyn and Morkel quite well, in fact as well as one could expect in the given conditions. Had he been lucky to last out for sometime, I am sure he would have made a mark. But then Steyn was on fire.Only Sachin scored big in that match.Pujara has that waiting game technique that one sees in Hashim Amla and the appetite for big scores. He has all the strokes in the book and more importantly the hook,pull and square cut.He is also a brilliant fielder. Sadly for him luck has not been on his side in regard to injuries. I wish him the very best of luck from now on.

Posted by vishal_26 on (August 15, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

Pujara is a very talented player.. he has got runs in first class cricket and in his test cricket i guess in dis series they should try youth and see their talent and even New Zealand isnt really a strong team like England or even Australia.. maybe in first test match i will say my playing 11 should be Gambir Rahane Kohil Pujara Raina Dhoni Ashwin Zaheer Ishant and Umesh/Piyush...

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

@A.Ak - Tats because he has played only 3 tests.

Posted by hyped on (August 15, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

very nice team.. i think laxman must retire after the hyderabad test.. and then the team must be sehwag,gambhir,pujara,tendulkar,kohli,rahane,dhoni,zaheeer,yada,ishant,ashwin

Posted by ssshNevo on (August 15, 2012, 11:01 GMT)

welcome back mate, pujar is our future along with kohli and i hate to say it raina, laxman should retire straight away, he's finished, he was embarrassing in oz, i was there in the crowds looking on at such a poor side. only sachin should play sehwag should also be dropped for rahane or moved down the order aaran yadav need to get more overs in test cricket, dhoni should also be dropped what a joke.

Posted by SudiptaS on (August 15, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

Well..nice to see Pujara in the team...time to bring in Rahane and Pujara in the side... An ideal team would be: Gautam,Viru,Ajinkya,Sachin,Virat,Pujara,Dhoni,Ashwin/Ishant/Irfan/Varun(depending on conditions)Zaheer,Yadav,Ojha of course for ODIs we need to let go of Pujara for Yuvi/Raina, and make space for Irfan as a certainty and let go of Yadav for now(he needs to get his direction right). For T20s, we can bring in Robin Uthappa. Dont know why he is not selected despite being a better performer than Rohit in all occasions. And for those immersed in Sachin bashing, well he has been the 2nd best performer in England and Australia for us, please check your facts. Also, it is not his fault that selectors don't want to drop him.

Posted by A.Ak on (August 15, 2012, 10:49 GMT)

He has got the potential. But he could be another Rohit Sharma, at least so far. No news about his performance since his 72 against Aussies.

Posted by QingdaoXI on (August 15, 2012, 10:40 GMT)

Best of luck pujara. India should Play pujara at number 3 and Kohli at number 4. Tendulkar and Laxman should relegated one position down as they are here just to groom the youngsters. I think India should play only one senior in one match vs New Zealand. Laxman should play first test at home and retire gracefully and Sachin should come back in next test. Sachin should also be ask if he ready for all the test tours and home series coming in next two years, if not the time has come for him to bow out on high from the team, Because next 10 test are going to be played on home soil and we need our young batsmen to get some runs before they travel to other country. Rohit is been dropped and Raina is include it is very bad move instead of that Rohit should have continued becuase he was in team on the performance of Ranji in test Squad. He should have been dropped for next odi series, but not test. Instead of raina if they dont wanted rohit than Rayudu and Manish Pandey were good replacement.

Posted by anto12 on (August 15, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

Great to see pujara back. He is always a better test batsman than Raina.Hope Dhoni gives a chance to him rather than raina.

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

Really looking forward to seeing Pujara in action. One of the future stars of India - if India decides it cares about Test cricket that is.

Posted by maddinson on (August 15, 2012, 10:01 GMT)

Pujara is very good player and have good people around him. Gambhir, Rahane, Pujara, Sehwag, Kohli, Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ashwin, Zaheer, Ozha and Yadav should be the best possible playing XI for India in test matches if they have learnt anything from two back to back humiliations. But wait certain Tendulkar still want to play and Indian selectors don't have any guts to say otherwise.

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