With the entire country under lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara wants to use this break to work on his fitness. Pujara was seen struggling during last month’s Ranji Trophy final in which Saurashtra beat Bengal at the Eden Gardens. During the first innings, an unwell Pujara came to bat at No. 6 and faced 24 balls before retiring hurt. Initially it was reported that Pujara was dehydrated, but skipper Jaydev Unadkat later revealed that the batsman was struggling with a throat infection.

But Pujara revealed he was also ailing due to a strain on his back. For Test specialist Pujara, the next major assignment is the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in December this year and he hopes to utilise this break to monitor his fitness and work on it accordingly.

“During the Ranji Trophy final (last month), I was struggling to bat due to a back strain. I was advised two weeks of rest, and it has healed now. In any case, there won’t be any matches for a month or so. That said, I want to work on my fitness. I have a gym at home and I am training as per the chart given by the trainer strengthening my back, doing cardio by running on the treadmill or cycling. I am trying to focus on these things at the moment,” Pujara told Hindustan Times.

“There is no right time [for a break like this] but for us [longer format players], this is the end of the season and there aren’t many games coming up. So, it won’t affect my skills part. Because, even if I start playing cricket after a month, I understand my batting and getting into rhythm will not be difficult. You just need to be in good shape.”

Pujara has signed with Gloucestershire, a contract that could have seen him play six games for the County side. But with the cricket season delayed in England due to the pandemic and the growing uncertainty over County season, Pujara’s plans have hit a roadblock. As for the time being, Pujara, like his India teammates, is taking time off cricket and has urged the public to take up a form of exercise, while reminding everyone that staying indoors is the need of the hour.

“When the matches start again, I will be ready for it. At the moment, I am completely off cricket and not even watching the game at all. If I get time, I catch up on some movies and watch Netflix,” he said. “My message for everyone is that it is important to do some exercises, whether it is yoga or simply walking in your room. You don’t need a bigger space to walk, and a little bit of exercise will always help. And remember; don’t move out at all, except for getting hold of essentials.”