India’s Test batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara cannot describe in words the influence that Rahul Dravid has had on his life but says he will always remain grateful to him for teaching the importance of switching off from cricket.
Often compared to Dravid, who was considered the ‘wall’ of Indian cricket, Pujara said he is thankful to Dravid for teaching him how to keep personal and professional lives separate.
“He helped me understand the importance of switching off from cricket. I had the same thought, more or less, but when I spoke to him, it gave me a lot of clarity about it and I was sure of what I needed to do,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
“I also saw in county cricket how they keep personal and professional lives separate. I value that advice a lot. Many people consider me to be focused. Yes, I am focused, But I also know when to switch off. There is life beyond cricket.”
In his illustrious international career, Dravid amassed 13288 runs in 164 Tests and 10889 runs in 344 ODIs. He also captained India in 79 ODIs, winning 42 of them, which includes the world record of 14 successive wins while chasing.
“I cannot say in one line what Rahul bhai means to me. He has always been an inspiration, and will remain one,” Pujara said.
His mental fortitude and batting technique is often compared to Dravid but Pujara said “despite my enchantment with him” he never tried to “copy him.”
“There is a similarity in our games, but that’s not because of my fascination with him. That came mainly through my experiences with Saurashtra, where I learned that scoring a hundred alone isn’t enough, you have to carry your team,” he said.
“That is how I learned responsibility – it is about helping my team to raise a big total, and for that I ought to attach importance to my wicket. I learned that from my junior cricket days with Saurashtra, which was a weaker team in domestic cricket.”