Pujara retires hurt because of 'stiff neck'

Cheteshwar Pujara tackles a short ball PTI

Pujara retires hurt because of 'stiff neck'

A stiff neck had Cheteshwar Pujara retire hurt midway through the opening day of Saurashtra's Ranji Trophy opener against Chhattisgarh in Rajkot. Pujara had complained of discomfort in the morning because he was trying to bat with an open stance but walked in to bat at his usual No. 3 position.

He had faced 64 deliveries for his 30 not out when he walked off after consulting the team physio. Shitanshu Kotak, the Saurashtra coach, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that there was "nothing to worry" and the move to have him retire hurt was precautionary, keeping immediate future in mind. "He will be ready to bat on Friday, if required." With India's Test tour of Australia slated to begin only in the first week of December, Pujara has made himself available for at least the first two round of the season.

India A fast bowlers asked to rest

Mindful of managing players' workloads and keeping them fresh, the selectors have asked the fast bowlers of the New Zealand-bound India A squad to skip the first round of the Ranji Trophy. This meant Hyderabad, defending champions Vidarbha, and Rajasthan were without the services of Mohammad Siraj, Rajneesh Gurbani and Deepak Chahar respectively. MSK Prasad's request to the state associations didn't affect Navdeep Saini, however, as Delhi are slated to play their first game on November 12.

While the request was to rest only the fast bowlers, a number of other India A regulars, like Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer, too didn't take part in the opening round. M Vijay was included in Tamil Nadu's XI alongside R Ashwin, while Hanuma Vihari and Parthiv Patel, who have been selected for the Test tour of Australia, also walked out to lead Andhra and Gujarat respectively.

India A is slated to leave for New Zealand on November 9, with the first of three four-day matches scheduled to begin on November 16 at Bay Oval in Tauranga.

Uthappa likely to sit out for 'four to six weeks'

Robin Uthappa, the Saurashtra batsman, is likely to be unavailable for the group stages because of an ankle injury. Uthappa underwent surgery in England last week and has been advised rest for six to eight weeks according to Kotak: "He is a quality player who will add value to any side, we won't rush him in. Even if he is back for the second phase, his inclusion will be very valuable."

Uthappa's signing for a second season with Saurashtra wasn't a given until two months ago, as he was keen to return to Karnataka. However, with Karnataka opting for a new coaching staff and focusing on youth, Uthappa didn't find a favourable response.