IND vs NZ Test: Cheteshwar Pujara opens up on Rahul Dravid’s enrty in dressing room, says ‘will only help young players’

Rahul Dravid’s entry into the dressing room is a win-win situation for Cheteshwar Pujara, whose game is modelled on current India head coach’s tight defensive technique.

“It will help most of the players, especially young players who have worked with Rahul bhai during U-19 and India A days. Even experienced players like us, I have played with Rahul bhai.

“I have worked with him during A series, so all of us are looking forward to his guidance. The amount of experience he has as a player and coach of the team, helps,” Pujara said ahead of the team’s training session.

It wasn’t an alteration in technique but a fearless approach that has brought the joy back in batting for Pujara, who won’t put undue pressure of performance on himself.

Pujara insisted that not having a Test hundred in three years doesn’t perturb him as long as his 80s and 90s are coming in winning causes.

Did he think that his aggressive approach in England Tests after facing criticism for ‘lack of intent’, helped him?

“Yes, I feel so. When it comes to performing, the mindset was a little different but when it comes to technique I don’t think there was a major change in technique. It was just the approach and I was a little fearless which helps,” Pujara answered to a query from PTI ahead of team’s training session.

He did admit in a roundabout manner that he was putting too much pressure on himself earlier, which has changed since he scored 91 and 61 at Leeds and Oval at a decent clip.

“You don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself and just try and go there and enjoy the game rather than worrying too much about what’s going around.

“That was the mindset during England series. So far preparation has been good and experiences of playing in Indian conditions will help in the next couple of Tests,” the senior batter, who will be vice-captain for the series-opener, said.

For Pujara, lack of Test hundred since January, 2019 isn’t a problem.

“As far as my hundred is concerned, when it has to happen it will happen. My job is to bat well for the team and it’s not that I haven’t been getting runs. I have got 80s and 90s. As long as I am batting well and contributing for the team, I am not bothered about my hundred. It’s matter of one innings,” he made it clear.

I would have still mentored juniors had I not been vice-captain

Pujara believes that added responsibility helps but it does not mean that he will not reach out juniors without a designation.

“Added responsibility can work in your favour as you can share experience with youngsters. Even when I am not vice-captain, I try and share my experiences as much as I can and ultimate focus is about Indian team.”