Pujara doubtful for remainder of IPL
Cheteshwar Pujara is in danger of missing out on the rest of the IPL season after injuring his knee while fielding in Royal Challengers Bangalore's win against Kochi Tuskers Kerala last week. Pujara picked up the injury when his foot got stuck in the turf as he attempted a sliding save in the Chinnaswamy Stadium outfield. He played no further part in the game, though he managed to hobble back to the dressing room, refusing the assistance of a stretcher.
A chat with the National Cricket Academy (NCA) physiotherapist, and some intial scans revealed that there was no swelling in the knee. Pujara has not travelled with his team to Jaipur for tonight's game against Rajasthan Royals. He is currently in his hometown, Rajkot, and will return to Bangalore for an MRI scan later this week, after which the team management will take a call on his further involvement.
This is not the first time Pujara has picked up an injury in the IPL. In the 2009 edition that was hosted in South Africa, he injured his left knee during a warm-up game in the lead-up to the tournament, and was forced out of action for six months. He managed to bounce back from that setback, and even forced his way into the Indian Test team on the back of a series of strong domestic performances. The timing of his injury, and the recovery time, could impact his participation in the upcoming tour of West Indies. The tour begins in early June, though the Test leg gets underway only on June 20.
For the moment, Bangalore are not giving up on Pujara's return. Ray Jennings, Bangalore's coach, said that he would like to wait for the final scans before taking a decision. "There have been a few conflicting reports about Pujara's status," Jennings told ESPNcricinfo. "At first, it seemed quite serious, but now he feels a little better. We are awaiting the results of his scans at the NCA and will take a final call before the next game [against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday].
"Pujara is a very good cricketer, and it will be a disappointment for him if he doesn't recover. But it will open up opportunities for some of the other youngsters in the side."
Pujara has not had too many opportunities so far in the season and has scored only 34 runs in three innings in seven games, batting low in a powerful line-up. Despite the modest returns, Jennings recently suggested Pujara had the potential to replace the England-bound Tillakaratne Dilshan as an opener, but the injury has made things uncertain.
Mohammad Kaif has been in and out of the Bangalore XI, and is the front-runner for Pujara's lower middle-order spot. South African batsmen Rilee Rossouw and Jonathan Vandiar are the other candidates, though they are more likely to replace Dilshan at the top of the order.