He is one of my childhood idols. Unfortunately, he has retired now but whenever I had the opportunity to play alongside Dravid, I always enjoyed his company.
New Delhi: Known for his sound technique and insatiable appetite for runs, Cheteshwar Pujara believes he has it in himself to succeed Rahul Dravid at the crucial number three position in the Test side and says comparison with his childhood idol acts as a ‘morale-booster’.
“It’s a big compliment for me (comparison with Dravid) because someone who has been successful in Indian cricket and someone who has been called ‘The Wall’ of the Indian cricket, if you are compared with that person, it’s a morale-booster for me and increases my confidence,” Pujara told PTI in an interview.
“He is one of my childhood idols. I try and learn as many things as possible from him. Unfortunately, he has retired now but whenever I had the opportunity to play alongside Dravid, I always enjoyed his company, the way he used to guide me, the way he used to give me tips, it was always motivating for me,” he said.
Seen by many as one who could go on to be an able successor to the former great, Pujara has an average of 65 after 13 Tests having scored four centuries, including two double hundreds, and three half-centuries.
Pujara said cricket fans comparing him with the former India captain shows that ‘you have something similar’ to Dravid.
“You have something in you, that’s why people are comparing me with him. It’s a great feeling for me, I mean you have the technique which is similar to Dravid. He is a player who has scored more than 10,000 runs in both the formats.” The 25-year-old Saurashtra batsman, who has strengthened his position in the Test format, is patiently waiting for his chance to make the ODI debut.
“I’ll get my chances soon. I am working on being a good ODI and T20 player. I started off well in the Test cricket and if I continue the way I am playing Tests, I’ll get my chances in the ODI format too. I just need to wait for my opportunity and I know the time will soon come,” said Pujara, who averages 56.97 in 61 domestic one-day matches with eight hundreds and 17 fifties.
Talking about the tough tour to South Africa beginning December this year, Pujara admitted that the three Tests and seven ODI series will be a big test of his batting but exuded confidence of performing well in challenging conditions. “I have played in South Africa in 2010, so I have the exposure of playing there. I know what to expect from the Proteas team and wickets. I have some plans for it and will prepare according to it. The team will also have some plans to counter the conditions there. When Gary Kirsten was our coach, we had a decent South Africa tour where we tied the Test series. I hope we will be able to win the series this time.”
Pujara, who has been seen as a specialist Test batsman, welcomed the ICC’s decision to introduce the Test Championship, which will replace the 50-over Champions Trophy in the international calendar.