Following the trend like the rest of his teammates, Indian’s Test mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara returned to the nets for the first time after a three-month hiatus owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. Pujara last played for India during the two-match Test series against New Zealand where the visting side lost 0-2. Pujara managed 100 runs at 25.50 and was the second-highest run-getter for India after Mayank Agarwal’s tally of 102.

The 32-year-old Pujara shared pictures of his nets session on Monday on his official Instagram handle. He captioned it, “Back at it…felt like a long time away but just as i took the stance felt as if it was yesterday”.

Pujara was one of the architects of Saurashtra’s maiden Ranji Trophy triumph in March including skipper Jaydev Unadkat.

He has been training at his academy, located in the outskirts of Rajkot, alongside Unadkat, batsman Arpit Vasavada and medium-pacer Prerak Mankad.

Compared to the bigger cities in India, the COVID-19 caseload in Rajkot is on the lower side with 185 infections reported so far.

“It has been close to 10 days now. Though we were working on our fitness during the lockdown, there is no substitute to hitting the nets and it feels great. We are following all the government guidelines while practising,” Vasavada, man of the match in the Ranji Trophy final against Bengal, quoted by PTI on Monday.

 

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Back at it…felt like a long time away but just as i took the stance felt as if it was yesterday

A post shared by Cheteshwar Pujara (@cheteshwar_pujara) on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:16am PDT

While all professional cricketers will need four to six weeks for regaining match fitness, the task is a tad tougher for the bowlers, who are at a bigger risk of getting injured after a long break.

“JD bhai (Unadkat) also joined us recently and is gradually increasing his time in the nets just like all of us. He is bowling without using saliva on the ball (recently banned by the ICC).

“As for us (Pujara and I), we started with batting sessions of 10-15 minutes and plan to increase the intensity gradually. We have also some net bowlers who are based out of Rajkot.

“Initially, you need some time to get your reflexes back but now batting feels normal,” added Vasavada.

With cases rapidly rising across the country, it is tough to predict when the domestic season kicks off. It is supposed to begin in August but it looks unlikely at this stage.

The national team players including Pujara are also going through an uncertain period and don’t know when they can assemble for a training camp. Pujara’s next international assignment most likely will be the tour of Australia in December.