Back on the cricket pitch after recovering from injury, Saurashtra's star batsman Chetseshwar Pujara tells Haresh Pandya he is confident of making it to the national side for the tour of Australia.
Cheteshwar Pujara is fit and raring to go. After an impressive debut against the Australians a year ago, he toured South Africa before injuring himself in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League earlier this year.
Back on the cricket pitch in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 tournament (West Zone), Pujara says he is prepared for the Ranji Trophy matches that commence in November.
"I'm quite fit now. I've been practising regularly. I run well and I've no difficulty whatsoever in any of my body movements. I train under physio Nitin Patel at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, which I visit regularly during my schedules in a month. I may not play the first couple of Ranji Trophy games, but I'm ready for competitive cricket now after a considerably long hiatus," he told rediff.com in Rajkot.
"Of course, I miss first-class cricket. I miss Test cricket even more. But you're helpless against injuries, which are part and parcel of a sportsman's life. I'm keen, even determined, to be back on the track again. I know I've to prove my fitness and then to score runs as in the past. But I see no problem doing both once I start playing cricket. I'm sure of regaining my place in Team India and confident of making it to the Australian tour. I'm a man of positive attitude and I strongly believe that confidence is the key to success in any walk of life," he added.
Interestingly, the 23-year-old has never been injured while batting or fielding in first-class or one-day cricket. Both the times he got injured, it was in the IPL. Earlier, he broke his left ligament while practising before the first ball was bowled in the second edition of the IPL, played in South Africa, in 2009, when he was part of Kolkata Knight Riders.
He recovered soon after a minor operation in South Africa. His latest injury appeared more serious and he underwent surgery in England after consulting Dr. Andrew Williams.
"I don't want to go into ifs and buts. All I'm concerned about is what lies ahead for me," he said, when asked what he would have done in the West Indies and England if he had been fit and selected.
"I've always tried to give my best for India whenever I've got opportunities to represent the country in any form of cricket at any level. I feel encouraged when truly great cricketers like Gundappa Viswanath appreciate my technique and performance. This is a big motivation for me. I'm determined to make a comeback," Pujara said.
A batsman of Pujara's class will be an asset to the Indian team Down Under, where the pitches are green, fast and bouncy, where the ball comes at a devilish speed and rises awkwardly.
The Indian middle-order does not look as formidable as it used to be despite being still studded with some old jewels, who are fast losing their lustre. A couple of good, impressive innings in the Ranji Trophy should do Pujara's confidence and career a world of good. Once he is in his groove, the rest of things should hopefully take their own course.