UPDATED: March 31, 2021 13:46 IST
Cheteshwar Pujara will be returning to the Indian Premier League for the first time since 2014 and the senior India batsman is already making heads turn. After completing the mandatory quarantine period, Pujara began training with his Chennai Super Kings teammates in Mumbai.
Known as a Test specialist, Pujara had missed out on IPL contracts in the recent past. However, Chennai Super Kings snapped him up at the IPL 2021 auction in February at his base price of Rs 50 lakh. While questions are being asked if Pujara would be able to find a spot in the CSK XI, the India star is certainly answering them with his approach in the training sessions.
On Tuesday, Cheteshwar Pujara was seen hitting the balls into the stands at ease during a practice session with the CSK. In a video clip going viral on social media, Pujara can be spotted taking the attack to the likes of Deepak Chahar and Karn Sharma.
Pujara can be seen batting with a remodelled stance as he hits on the up against the CSK bowlers. Pujara was seen playing a slog sweep against Karn Sharma and he even danced down the track to hit a left-arm spinner into the stands. Pujara had no intention of keeping the ball down the ground, contrary to his approach in Test cricket.
Pujara has never shied away from expressing his interest to play white-ball cricket and the senior batsman let his bat speak when he returned to T20 cricket with a hundred at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2019. He had put his name up for auction and was picked up by CSK, which led to loud applause from the rest of the auction tables.
Pujara has been one of India’s finest match-winners in Test cricket in the recent past. The India No. 3 batsmen had played a crucial role, scoring 521 runs in India’s historic triumph against Australia in Australia in 2018-19. Pujara was the lynchpin once again Down Under as he held the batting unit together when India scripted history by overturning a 0-1 deficit to win a Test series against Australia 2-1 earlier this year. Pujara did not shy away from taking blows to his body during a Test-batting masterclass in India’s famous win at the Gabba.
Notably, Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji had said at the auction that the 3-time champions wanted to honour Pujara for his Test exploits with an IPL contract.
“The way he has played recently for India in the recent past, in Australia he deserves that. He deserves that mark of respect. One player I genuinely feel is giving his sweat and blood for the country. I feel genuinely happy for him,” Balaji said.
CSK, who will be led by MS Dhoni, will open their campaign against Delhi Capitals on April 10 in Mumbai.