Cheteshwar Pujara is unlikely to feature in the remainder of the Ranji Trophy final because of back spasms. India’s Test No. 3 felt some stiffness in his back prior to taking the field on Wednesday, the third day of the ongoing final against Bengal, in Rajkot.
He eventually didn’t take the field for the entire day and underwent a precautionary scan. “He will bat if absolutely necessary”, according to a Saurashtra Cricket Association official. “It’s not a major issue, he is feeling fine, and we’re just treading caution.” Samarth Vyas substituted for Pujara through the 65 overs Saurashtra bowled on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Pujara struck a crucial half-century, a 237-ball 66 that helped Saurashtra post a more-than-competitive 425 on a tricky surface that had little preparation time, as the semi-finals between Saurashtra and Gujarat had finished only three days earlier.
His 142-run stand with Arpit Vasavada was a masterclass in deadbeat defense that prolonged Bengal’s agony on the second day. In the third session, when the bowlers lost steam, he cashed in to bring up his maiden fifty in Ranji finals, after four earlier attempts yielded the highest of 27.
Earlier in the game, Pujara battled throat infection and fever, and didn’t bat at his usual No. 4 slot for Saurashtra. When he eventually arrived to bat at No. 6, he managed to bat through fo 40 minutes before retiring hurt after experiencing dizziness.
Despite the illness, Pujara has been a constant feature in the Saurashtra dressing room. He has had a hectic three weeks first playing for India A in a four-day fixture in Christchurch in the lead-up to the two Tests, in Wellington and Christchurch. Prior to the final, Pujara shrugged off jet lag and trained for two days with the team after arriving from New Zealand on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Pujara took time off to arrange a visit to his academy, in the outskirts of the city, for visiting journalists, where he and Arvind, his father, train kids from underprivileged backgrounds.