Cheteshwar Pujara plays a club game in TNCA league on Ravi Ashwin's request
When it comes to commitment to the game, you may not find a better player than Cheteshwar Pujara in the current scenario. Pujara, who is now confined to playing one format in international cricket, saw a resurgence of sorts in the second half of 2018, with a century in England Test series and then a Man of the Series performance against Australia.
Pujara had a lean start to 2018, with failures in South Africa, and an affinity for getting run out. He turned it around in the latter part and helped India win their maiden Test series in Australia with three centuries including a best of 193 in Sydney Test. Pujara has recently fared in domestic T20 competition Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and even scored a century in the format for Saurashtra.
Saurashtra lad Pujara lands in Chennai to play for Ashwin’s club
However, as he seemingly was enjoying an offseason of sorts, he received a call from national teammate R Ashwin and was convinced enough to travel to Tamil Nadu to play for Ashwin’s club MRC ‘A’ in Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s first division league. Pujara scored 162 for MRC against Crombest Club giving another example of his obligation towards the game regardless of the level of competition.
“Basically, I wanted to get some match practice in between and also you need to be in touch with the game. Ashwin told me it was an important game for the club, so I came over to play the match,” Pujara was quoted as saying by India Today.
Decision to play a game in Chennai
Pujara spoke about managing his workload after playing a long season on international cricket. He said he had come to know of the TNCA league from some of his teammates in Saurashtra. He said that his decision to play a match in the league was influenced by an opportunity to play on spin-friendly tricky tracks in Chennai.
“I was playing some matches for Saurashtra. I played Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and scored some runs even there. So things are changing. I am scoring runs even in shorter formats now,” said Pujara, after he played for the R Ashwin led MRC ‘A’ team in TNCA league.
Comparisons with Dravid
Cheteshwar Pujara made his debut a couple of years before Rahul Dravid retired and was touted as the next Rahul Dravid given his performance in his initial innings. Pujara took over the mantle of batting at the no.3 position from Dravid, but despite his achievement, the comparisons have continued.
On that, Pujara said, “When I started my career, I always thought I should not be compared to Rahul bhai since he has scored more than 10,000 runs in Test and even ODI cricket. He (Dravid) has publicly said that let him be the first Cheteshwar Pujara rather than Rahul Dravid.”