Cheteshwar Pujara might be confined to his home, but he’s not giving any easy points away to his partner |

Cheteshwar Pujara was supposed to be in the UK, playing for Gloucestershire, at this time of year. In the new normal, as he tells us in our Downtime Diaries series, he is enjoying spending time with his two-year-old, helping his wife out, and not talking cricket with his father
What is the longest you have slept in this period?Wouldn’t be more than nine hours, because I have a young daughter, Aditi, who wakes up early. She is just two years old and is usually up by 7.30am.
How do you spend time with her?She is very energetic and wants to play all day. She enjoys our company – I’m around, Puja [Pujara’s wife] is around, and my father too. We have a garden in the backyard, so I have started helping her with some gardening. I help her water, pick up the garbage. Puja and I play badminton, and Aditi likes to be engaged in her own way by being around.
Does your wife still think it’s a good thing you’re home so much or has she started complaining?(Laughs). No, she hasn’t complained. It is a tough time because there is no domestic help right now. I help her with cleaning the house. Cooking – I am not good at, but I help out washing the dishes. People should help their partner, whether it is cleaning, cooking, whatever you can. In Indian culture the men are usually not used to doing [house] work.
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Have you learned something about yourself that you didn’t know about?Everyone will have learned the message that life with family is more important than the other things we do throughout the year. Sometimes we don’t have enough time for our family, for our friends. Personally, I knew this part already because I have meditated on this. Not actual meditation, but I do a prayer every day. It is a kind of a way where you try and analyse yourself, understand yourself a little better, have better control over your thoughts, what you want to achieve in life, what one has to contribute towards society. I am someone who likes social service and have always been involved in that.
You have spoken before about how county cricket made you self-dependent and responsible. You were supposed to be playing for Gloucestershire this county season.When I was in New Zealand [India Test series] I knew I was going to be playing some county cricket, but I was reading about coronavirus even then. I thought that things might get postponed because in some countries sporting events were getting cancelled. As soon as I was back from New Zealand I was playing the Ranji Trophy [final]. After the second or third day, the crowd was not allowed in to watch.
What is one thing outside of cricket that you miss being able to do?Usually when I am at home in Rajkot, we go and play badminton on weekends on proper courts. That is something I’m missing.
Who did you used to play badminton with?With my wife – she wants to learn. At times if Jaydev Unadkat is in Rajkot, he is a decent badminton player, so I play with him.
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You are supposedly very competitive with badminton. Do you allow your wife to win?No, no. I can’t allow my wife to win. I can’t allow anyone to win against me [at badminton]. That is not possible. I’ve been telling her that she has to get better at it and win that way. I don’t want to lose to make her happy that she has beaten me. As a sportsperson your mentality is to make sure that the other person becomes stronger than you.
Lots of people seem to be taking quizzes online during this lockdown. Are you doing that too?Not yet. I am not a person who does a lot of social media. But I’ve been a little bit active. I just did an Instagram [chat] with Jaydev Undakat recently.
Are you spending more time on your phone these days?May be about an hour in total in a day.
We are watching some stuff on Netflix – Homeland. And we also watched Special Ops on Hotstar.
Are you and your dad talking cricket?During the lockdown, the talk is not about cricket. Also, Aditi wants us to play with her. I don’t talk cricket with her. She only knows Jaydev [from my cricketing life]. And [R] Ashwin, because Puja and she used to travel with the team when Aditi was young, and Ashwin’s wife also travelled.
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If you could watch a match from the past during this period, which one would it be?I might watch a Wimbledon final if I haven’t watched it already. But if I am very honest, I don’t like watching any sports event that is in the past. Since I already know the result, it doesn’t excite me much. And if it’s cricket, then I don’t watch it at all if am at home.
Cooking is not your department, you said. Are you going to try your hand at it sometime soon?At some stage, I will. It is not easy. I have tried some dishes when I was alone in the UK [playing county cricket]. I tried cooking poha, I tried cooking one of the gravies [curries]. But I need guidance, and it requires lot of patience.
Are you saying you don’t have patience?I do, but usually Puja won’t teach me if I’m being honest. Because I keep asking so many questions. She doesn’t have patience with my cooking skills.