Recently in a book launch ceremony Javagal Srinath, the former India Fast bowler and present ICC Match Referee said “the answer for Rahul Dravid is Cheteshwar Pujara”. These lines by the great fast bowler for Pujara sum up what this master batsman means to the Indian cricket. Ravi Ashwin on the occasion of Pujara playing his 100th Test match wrote on a well articulated piece “His stubbornness is such that he has broken down the best of attacks with his defense”. There are many words of admirations coming from all over the world for Pujara and his achievement, but these two remarks from star Indian cricketers stand out for me.
Being only the 13th Indian to play 100 test matches, Pujara was felicitated today in Delhi before the start of 2nd test match between India and Australia by none other than Sunil Gavaskar on behalf of BCCI. Jaydev Shah, the proud President of Saurashtra Cricket Association also did the honors on behalf of SCA and presented his fellow kathiawadi cricketer with a memento. Cheteshwar’s milestone is indeed a proud moment for everyone in the SCA and the entire fraternity of Saurashtra cricket. Niranjan Shah the veteran administrator of Indian cricket is a happy man today who always believes that development of cricket is multi dimensional and success of which can only be measured through various parameters. What Pujara has done is definitely one of those parameters Mr Shah is talking about. Personally I am overwhelmed by the occasion. It is like a golden era of Saurashtra cricket and this is an icing on the cake. Saurashtra doing well in all age group cricket of BCCI across all the formats is something very important and Cheteshwar getting his 100th Test match cap around the same time is just awesome. It is indeed another feather in the cap of Pujara.
When I wrote about Pujara for “Cricket classics” the three words that came straight in to my mind were “dedication, devotion and determination”. If there is any brand ambassador in the game of cricket for resilience, ability to handle pressure and bear bodily pain, it can only be Cheteshwar Pujara. In tough test match situations, we have seen Pujara doing the hard yards to ensure the best result for team India. We all have seen how strong & tall he stood on bouncy Australian pitches when he was hit on the body numerous times. Patience is another virtue of this man and he has used it to perfection. Preparation is something all great cricketers put a lot of emphasis on, and Cheteshwar is no different. Short cut has never been an option for him. Dealing with serious and career threatening injuries, facing fierce fast bowlers on uneven cricket pitches, playing against quality spinners on turning tracks Pujara has always come out with special effort and found victorious.
More than 7000 test runs and counting, Cheteshwar, we are super proud of you on your yet another special 100 of test matches. Well done mate, many more to come….
By Prakash J Bhatt
(Former Saurashtra Ranji trophy captain)