Rahul Dravid is not new to praise. Right from his playing career to even three and a half years years after hanging up his boots, plenty have spoken highly about the legendary batsman’s impact in their careers. And Cheteshwar Pujara claimed he too benefitted from the former great.
Warming the benches for the last seven months, Pujara made the best use of the chance he got in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka.
The Saurashtra batsman, showing little signs of exhaustion despite batting an entire day in the sweltering heat at SSC, said pep talk from Dravid really helped him during the frustrating time.
“The best thing came out of Rahul bhai (Rahul Dravid) when I was playing with India ‘A’ team,” he said.
“He said that there was nothing wrong with my technique, overall I was batting really well in England and Australia, it’s just that I didn’t convert the 30s and 40s into a big one. So he told me that just keep my calm.
“He watched me bat in the nets and told me that I was batting well and that there was a big one coming very soon. That gave me lot of confidence and I decided that I just need to stick to what I do and continue playing the way I have been,” said Pujara of Dravid who is now the India ‘A’ coach.
Pujara got a chance to play this game only after openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were ruled out. Despite the pressure to perform in a team oozing with batting talent for almost every spot, Pujara said he went in with an uncomplicated mind. “I kept things simple I think. When I went in, I just had to go and bat and play my natural game.
Obviously I had always been thinking that if I think about all the stuff that had been happening and I am not batting at my regular position and this is the last opportunity that might be there and so on, I don’t think I will be able to go and perform to the best of my abilities. I had been working hard, the best thing I need to do is focus on what I have to do and the plan was very simple. Try and rotate the strike and see through the new ball, and once I am set, I can play my shots and build a partnership with other players.”
Pujara felt his stint with with country cricket helped him emerge stronger. “Obviously, when you go and play overseas, the conditions are different and I have played for Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Playing there helped me deal with the seaming conditions and the county cricket is challenging. Even if you want to score a fifty or a 100, it’s not easy. Spending lot of time there in the nets and in the game definitely helped me.”