India batsman started taking his fitness seriously after an injury lay-off in 2011
Injuries either make or break a sportsperson. Fortunately for Cheteshwar Pujara, it’s the former that happened. A knee injury in 2011 that threatened to end Pujara’s career was an eye-opener for the promising batsman.
Cheteshwar Pujara during a promotional event in the city yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
He took his fitness so seriously that the Saurashtra lad has not looked back ever since his return to international cricket after that particular injury lay-off.
Pujara has been one of India’s star performers in Test cricket and has provided that much-needed stability ever since Rahul Dravid retired in March 2012.
No 5 in Test charts
On the recent tour to South Africa, Pujara once again was consistent, aggregating 280 runs in two Tests. And yesterday, his consistency was rewarded with a career-best ranking in the ICC Test batting chart. He now finds himself in fifth place.
Pujara, who will turn 26 on January 25, said his intense focus on fitness has transformed his batting. “I am really happy with my performance.
Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates his 150 against South Africa at the Wanderers in Johannesburg recently. Pic/Getty Images
The last one-and-a-half years have been incredible as far as Test cricket is concerned,” Pujara told reporters at a felicitation function organised by his employers Indian Oil Corporation in Bandra yesterday.
Wasim Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane were the other cricketers present amongst a host of other sportspersons from different fields.
Pujara had injured his knee while fielding for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2011 Indian Premier League. He immediately underwent surgery in London and that ruled him out for over six months.
“As a sportsperson, you expect difficulties in your career which I have overcome. I have been working hard on my fitness in the last six to eight months and the results are fantastic.
“There is a major difference in the kind of fitness (regime) I used to follow and what I do now. It not only helps your game, but also improves your concentration.
When you are tired, you tend to lose concentration and feel fatigued. When you are fitter, your concentration improves,” Pujara explained.
Considering Pujara being one of the wise heads amongst the youngsters in the Indian team, it came as a surprise when he confessed to ignoring his fitness.
“Earlier, I used to be lazy. But now, even when I am travelling, I ensure I do my gym sessions. I am paying a lot more importance to fitness now,” Pujara said.
Meanwhile, Pujara and Rahane refused to take any questions regarding the recent South Africa tour and the forthcoming series in New Zealand.