Cheteshwar Pujara is often called the modern-day ‘wall’ of Indian cricket. It’s not a surprise that playing at No. 3, Pujara has idolised Rahul Dravid who is fondly referred to as The Wall.
Pujara has imbibed quite a few qualities from Dravid’s game. Be it batting for long hours or riding through ups and downs with a calm outlook, the legendary former India captain has been an inspiration to the man from Saurashtra.
Pujara makes it clear when he says he can’t name one quality that he has learnt from watching Dravid over the years. “There have been many,” he says.
Speaking to sports presenter Arjun Pandit for Sony Ten Pit Stop, Puajra said Dravid’s ability to live a balanced life has influenced him quite a bit.
“He [Dravid] has always been calm, very composed. He has always lived a balanced life. There have been many qualities. I don’t need to name one,” Pujara said.
“If you look at his cricketing career, there have been many ups and downs.
“The kind of sacrifices he has made for the team. I have never kept wickets but he is someone who has kept wickets in the Indian team when there was a need in the ODI team. To do all such things for the team, it’s not easy. If you are not a regular wicketkeeper, it’s one of the most difficult things.
“Apart from that, he has always been a team man. To bat at No. 3 there have been many challenges.
“So he has tackled all such challenges over a period of time. not just in 1 format. He has played ODI cricket for such a long time. Even late in his career, he was successful in T20 format also, mostly IPL.”
Pujara brought back memories of the Wall when he played a crucial role in India’s historic win over Australia in 2018-19. The No. 3 batsman batted for 30 hours, scored 521 runs and faced 1258 balls that felt like “million balls” to the opposition captain. He single-handedly batted Australia out of the contest in most of the occasions and grounded their bowling attack Down Under.
Talking about his composure, especially when the opposition is trying to sledge him, Pujara said he understands that talking back can lead to fall for the opposition’s trap.
“You do face sledging a bit when you start the innings. Once you are set, they don’t really try to bother you much and focus on getting you out. But when they fail to dismiss you and feel frustrated, they again start the verbal volleys. It is basically to disturb the batsman’s concentration.
“I don’t usually talk back but then there have been occasions when you feel that you need to give it back. However, I try to remain focused and calm because I know what my job is. See, sledging is a ploy to break your concentration and I feel that if I try to give it back to them, I might step into their trap. So I try to be in the zone,” Pujara said.