Something's missing from Cheteshwar Pujara's closet these days. Back from injury and into his fourth Ranji game, the Saurashtra batsman is getting good starts but not the big scores that saw him get labelled as Rahul Dravid's possible successor at the No 3 spot a year back.
Saurashtra play a crucial game at the Karnail Singh Stadium from Wednesday, and a win here can push either them or the Railways into the knockouts. “I have been working on strengthening my knees and the result has been impressive,” says the batsman. Pujara should have been on the flight to Australia for the Tests but a ligament injury late last year has kept him out.
He missed the tour to the West Indies where Virat Kohli made a strong case for himself. In the interim, Rohit Sharma too joined the bandwagon with big scores in Ranji.
While Kohli and Rohit are fighting for a slot in the middle order in Australia, Pujara is beginning his grind in Ranji.
“So far, I am getting the hang of it. There have been some good scores, but I have failed to convert the fifties. Yes, a big score is around the corner,” he says.
Pujara made 78 in the second innings of the last game at Jaipur where Saurashtra lost to Rajasthan. It was there that Pujara's vigil was missed as the other batsmen made a mess in the second innings after his dismissal.A few seasons back, he had denied Delhi at the Ferozeshah Kotla by batting it out in a Ranji game. This season, he has two fifties from five outings. Saurashtra have other stars too in Ravindra Jadeja and Jaidev Unadkat.
Squads: Railways: Bangar (c), A Singh, Awasthi, Bille, Chauhan, Khanolkar, Konwar, Rawat, Salvi, Shukla, Yadav. Saurashtra: Shah (c), Kotak, Jogiyani, Chauhan, Pathak, Pujara, Jadeja, Makwana, Unadkat, Maniar, Trivedi, Odedra, Vasavda, Doshi.