I wanted to play my own game, says elated Pujara

I wanted to play my own game, says elated Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara has been saddled with the responsibility of taking forward the legacy of Rahul Dravid even before he cut his teeth in international cricket.

A prolific run-getter in the domestic circuit, Pujara further raised the stakes for himself when he produced a sparkling 72 on his debut against Australia in 2010 in Bangalore, replacing a struggling Dravid at No 3.

After a couple of failures in South Africa and a long-injury lay off he sustained during IPL-4, Pujara is back in the national side. Only this time with a clear mandate that he would be filling in for the retired stalwart. The player himself, however, maintained a low-profile, dismissing any comparisons between him and Dravid as premature.

On Thursday, after notching up an unbeaten ton against New Zealand the right-hander appeared at peace with himself though not unaware of the reality. “I don’t think I can replace Rahul,” he remarked again when he was asked if he is ready to fill the void now.

“Obviously it is a great feeling. It is a dream to score a century in Tests. It is a great feeling. (But) It is impossible to do so (replace Dravid). I just wanted to play my own game. It’s a privilege to be playing in his position,” Pujara noted.

The youngster, though, said that he wasn’t intimidated by the idea of batting at number three.

“I knew that I was going to bat at the No 3 position. I have the experience of playing at this position as I have done it several times in domestic cricket. It is not a new thing for me. I was not really worried about it nor was I under any pressure when I went out.”

The difficult period, Pujara felt, while recovering from a long injury lay-off had made him tougher. “Obviously I am happy that all my hard work is paying off. One tends to become mentally tough after going through a tough phase in life. I too went through a difficult period especially with the injury. It was bad for me and my family too. But deep in my heart I knew that I would be able to make a comeback to the Indian team and play the game which I love so much,” he observed.

Pujara dedicated his maiden Test century to his father and coach Arvind. “I wish to dedicate this century to my father. He has been a keen supporter of me and though he has had lot of difficulties he has helped me pursue my dream. Even after he had a bypass surgery, he was taking care of me. I wish to thank my family for it.”

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