Battling for long periods comes naturally to Cheteshwar Pujara and now he wants his fellow Indians to do the same by staying at home as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.
Pujara was one of the sportspersons who attended the video call held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss ways to fight the coronavirus. The country is in the middle of a 21-day lockdown.
“The Prime Minister wanted us to pass on the fighting spirit of a sportsperson to the general public. Sportspersons do inspire to fight,” said Pujara.
“Most of us are following the government guidelines on lockdown but there are still some who are taking the virus casually. They don’t realise that they could too be affected. Every single person is a soldier at the moment. If you stay indoors, you are fighting the battle for your own country. There has to be a collective effort else we can’t win this.”
After helping Saurashtra win their first Ranji Trophy title last month, little did he know that he would be spending all his time at home. Pujara is enjoying the forced break and most of his time goes into entertaining his two-year-old daughter.
The closest he has got to a “hit in the nets” is by playing with a plastic bat. “That is also for entertaining my daughter. No serious stuff. All of that can wait at the moment,” he said.
But a gym at home means he is not compromising on his fitness. “I usually take everything in a positive way. Sometimes you need to take a break as a sportsperson and there can’t be a better time. We just won the Ranji and it is the right time to take three to four weeks off,” he said.
“Luckily, I have a gym at home. Being a small town guy, I can’t go out to the gym and train there. With a gym at home, I can still do my strength sessions, cycling and running. I also do yoga which helps a lot.”
Pujara was supposed to play county cricket in England but that too has been postponed at least till May 28. Considering the current circumstances, he might have to wait till the Australia tour in November to play his next competitive game. But he is prepared for any eventuality.
“I would still have some first-class games before the Australia tour. I am prepared for anything. This is the time when we can’t just be thinking about sporting events. First, we have to win this battle against the coronavirus,” he said.
“A person’s life is much more important than a sporting event. All the sporting events have been postponed. One has to be prepared as we are going through rare times. We just need to make sure the virus is contained and things get back to normal. After that we can talk about the game.”
Pujara has fond memories of the previous Australia tour in 2018-19 when India won their first Test series Down Under. He was named the player of the series for scoring 521 runs at an average of 74.42, including three hundreds. His long hours in the middle and the pacers’ stellar performances made all the difference.
“I would still say it was a collective effort. Yes, I did perform exceptionally well. I am happy about that, no doubt, but when we go back again you have to start from the scratch again. It (past performance) will help me for sure but one has to prepare again. You can’t take your past glories to the current series,” he said.