Cheteshwar Pujara has had a career marked with ups and downs. While he made a promising start to his stint in international cricket, a knee injury he sustained in the 2011 edition of the IPL prevented him from playing for much of that year. However, the batsman is back in a new innings in his professional and personal life. Excerpts…
You have modelled yourself on Bangalorean Rahul Dravid. What qualities of his do you admire most?Rahul’s technique is amazing and sound. He is definitely one of the pillars of Indian cricket, and he is a disciplined cricketer and highly focused on the game. The way I play is also similar to his.
How do you feel to be called the Wall in the making?I don’t want to be compared with Rahul. He has scored a lot of quality runs and I have just begun. He had a 16-year distinguished career for the country and has been a very consistent performer both at home and abroad. I just want to concentrate on my game and keep scoring runs.
You burst onto the international cricket scene in Bangalore. Does the city hold a special place in your heart?I like the greenery, the weather, the people and the cricketing infrastructure at The National Cricket Academy (NCA). Even after recuperating from my knee operation, I trained at the NCA for three months to get back into action. It’s an ideal location because of the weather and the indoor cricket facility.
Devoting time to your family must be a tough task. How do you cope?I got married in February, and since then, my wife Puja has been accompanying me on tours. My father Arvind Pujara is an ex-Ranji trophy cricketer. He was my first coach and is also my critic. We always have a healthy discussion after the game either at home or over the phone during tours. Unfortunately, I lost my mother due to cancer seven years ago.
How do you unwind and what’s your favourite holiday destination?Now that my wife is around, we go out for dinners. Being a nature lover, I love the English countryside. I also want to holiday in Europe.
Contributed by Vijay Vaidya