Cheteswar Pujara Natural Successor To Dravid
Whenever legendary cricketers retire it is sometimes impossible to find adequate replacements. But when Rahul Dravid called it a day in 2012 Indian cricket fans even while being sorry at the great man quitting were aware that they had a fairly adequate replacement in Cheteswar Pujara. That is because Pujara had already batted at one drop even while Dravid was around and had scored a stroke filled 72 on Test debut while playing a leading role in India’s seven wicket victory over Australia in Bangalore in 2010. It was immediately clear that he would be India’s No 3 once Dravid called it quits.
Eight years later it can be said that Pujara had been a natural successor to Dravid and more than an adequate replacement. Like Dravid he has played the sheet anchor role to perfection. Like Dravid he is India’s crisis man, scoring runs when they are badly required or being among the runs when everyone else around is failing. His latest hundred at Adelaide was very much in keeping with this reputation. He does not at all compare unfavourably with ``The Wall’’ the similar figures being a testimony to this. After 65 Tests he has crossed the 5000 run mark at an average of 50 with 16 hundreds (including three doubles) so from any angle he can be hailed as ``Wall 2’’.
In these days of an overdose of slam bang cricket, T-20 and now even T-10 it is refreshing to come across someone like Pujara. He is classy without the glitz. He is of the old school, a Test match specialist who believes in strokes straight out of the text book along with the traditional qualities of dedication, determination and concentration. He knows the value of his wicket and how valuable it is to the team and is not prepared to throw it away. Left to him he would not like to get out at all as befitting someone who has batted 672 minutes and faced 525 balls in compiling 202 against Australia at Ranchi last year.
Pujara is the fulcrum around which the Indian batting revolves. All through his long and illustrious career what the team would do without Dravid was too frightening to contemplate. Now the same can be said about Pujara. At 30 he is at the peak of his powers and Indian cricket is bound to benefit from his technical skill, vast experience, an insatiable appetite for runs and a hunger for success for many more years.