The downside of not featuring in the IPL is likely to be most telling on any contemporary cricketer's bank balance, but if one were to look at it from Cheteshwar Pujara's perspective, the perks of not being part of the tournament are few, but fulfilling.
Having finished India's protracted home season as the leading run-getter for the country, with a haul of 1316 runs at 62.66, including four hundreds, the No. 4-placed batsman on the ICC Test Rankings has managed to distance himself from the din of the IPL and do what most of his India team-mates may not have had the privilege of doing: make a trip to the Great Rann of Kutch, spend time with family and friends, train in the quietude of an academy located in the outskirts of Rajkot and gun for securing a contract in the English County Championship.
On April 7, Pujara did show up at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on an invitation. However, he admitted to seldom following the IPL on television and has, instead, earmarked his evenings for friends and family, especially for wife Puja and father Arvind.
"It's either practice or fitness training almost the entire day and it can't be cricket 24 hours," Pujara told the New Indian Express. "The switch-off happens in the evenings, when I'm with family or friends. That's why I don't watch IPL on TV, not because I'm not part of it. I watch occasionally, mostly if someone else is watching."
Looking back on his stupendous returns from the 13 Tests in the home season, Pujara sounded a note of regret when he admitted to having failed to convert eight fifties into three-digit scores. He crossed 70 four times in those innings, including a dismissal on 92.
"It's fantastic to have contributed to the team's success, but I thought I gave away my wicket too many times. There were starts that I couldn't convert. I've to improve in this area. I'm known to get big hundreds and have got them since my junior days."
Pujara could earn an estimated INR 4.25 crores in the period from October 2016 to September 2017, if he plays all of India's Tests - considerably less than what a number of players are likely to earn from the IPL alone. Pujara hasn't played in the IPL since the 2014 season, and did not find any takers in February's auction. He says, however, that he is not concerned by what he is earning in relation to other players.
"Many wanted India to win, the Australia series was tough," he said. "To have done well in those matches and gained the respect of teammates and oppositions brings about a satisfaction that can't be matched. The feeling that comes from performing when the team needs you to can't be compared. I don't want to talk about how much others are earning or doing. What I've earned is precious to me."