Impossible to replace Dravid: Pujara
Mumbai, Aug 16: Cheteshwar Pujara, who played the last of his three Tests in January 2011 in South Africa, has said that while he is happy to be compared to Rahul Dravid, there is no question of him replacing the Indian legend. Pujara said this in the light of being picked for India’s Test squad for the upcoming New Zealand series.
“It is impossible to replace Rahul Dravid. He has scored more than 10,000 runs in Tests and has proved himself as a successful cricketer at the highest level. I am yet to prove myself. I have got another opportunity and I am looking forward to it. It feels good when people say that my batting technique is very similar to Dravid but there is no question of replacing him,” Pujara said.
Pujara also said that he was not fazed by the pressure that accompanies such comparisons.
“I just stay focused on my game. This time I'm quite confident after my showing in the West Indies [India A tour], where conditions were very tough. I've worked very hard on my game and also on my fitness in the last few months.”
The last 19 months have indeed been a difficult period for Pujara. After a dream debut against Australia in the October Test of 2010, and being selected on the tour to South Africa, Pujara was sidelined for much of 2011 with a knee injury. Then, when he was rehabilitating at the NCA in Bengaluru, his father underwent bypass surgery. Eventually, ill father and injured son took care of each other while recuperating since Pujara's mother passed away five years ago.
Speaking on the tumultuous past months in his life Pujara said, “The last one year was perhaps the toughest phase because I missed some important series. I'm a very positive person and I always believed that if I keep the faith I will overcome these obstacles.”
The recent India A tour of the West Indies, however, brought Pujara back to the fore as he emerged the top-scorer with 252 runs in three matches in testing batting conditions. That performance, perhaps, played a crucial role in him being selected for the New Zealand series. Appropriately, having made a comeback in the Indian squad, Pujara is now focusing on his fitness.
“I am very conscious about my fitness now. I am aware and try my best to avoid injuries. I have a fitness routine and I follow it religiously. It hurts when I miss a training session. The best chance to avoid injuries in cricket, where you throw yourself on the field, is by trying and following certain training programmes.”