Mumbai: Fit-again Cheteshwar Pujara will make a comeback to competitive cricket, as he is expected to play Saurashtra's next Ranji trophy match against Karnataka next week, while eyeing a return to the Indian squad for the Test series Down Under.
Pujara suffered a ligament tear on his right knee while representing Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 4 (Indian Premier League) and underwent a surgery in London on July 1. He was rehabilitating at the National Cricket Academy, Bangalore.
"After the surgery in UK on July 1, I came directly to the NCA to complete my rehab. During the first phase, I was on crutches and gradually I started cycling, and running.
Yesterday they took a few tests (at the NCA). I am fit now. It was a long process and took five months," Pujara said.
"I began my batting and fielding training over a month ago. I will play a few (Ranji) matches. I will play the Saurashtra-Karnataka match at Bangalore from November 29," he said.
"From the point of view of selection (for the Indian team), I don't think fitness would be an issue."
Pujara has scored 107 runs in three Tests for India including an impressive 72 on debut.
He did admit that it was disappointing that the injury happened at the wrong time.
"It was very disappointing when I got injured. It happened at the wrong time. It was an on-field injury and one can hardly do anything about it. The injury happened when a lot of Test matches were to be played. But the injury was such that I had to go for surgery and recovery which would have taken a minimum of five months."
"It was a disappointing phase of my life but I could do nothing about it. My focus was to be complete my rehab in a proper way and get myself fit as soon as possible. Now I'm fit and am positive. Everything is on the right track now," he said.
"It would be a good challenge against Karnataka as I would get to face good bowlers. It would be good for me as Karnataka is doing well and have a good attack. The tougher the challenge the better it would be for me," he added.
Asked whether competition from the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Suresh Raina for a Test berth would make his comeback to the Indian team difficult, Pujara said he never thought about it and focussed only on improving himself.
"I never think of that (competition) when I play cricket.
My focus is on improving myself as much as I can in all areas and try as much as I can. As far as competition is concerned, it is good as the standard will only rise.
"If any player is doing well, you would want to do better than him. This is good for the Indian team as well. But I don't think much about the competition," he said.
Pujara had words of praise for his Ranji team-mate Ravindra Jadeja who has made a successful comeback into the Indian team.
"He (Jadeja) is a very talented player and a very talented all-rounder. He has made a great comeback and is doing well in both the departments."