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Dravid believes Pujara has the potential to become a legend in both Tests and ODIs
India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has already raised numerous eyebrows with his performances at the Test level, but Rahul Dravid believes that the 25-year-old should not be limited to Test cricket as he has the right attitude and mindset to become a solid ODI player.
Pujara currently has a Test average of 65.55 with four centuries and three half-centuries next to his name, but is still yet to make his ODI debut, despite averaging 56.97 in domestic ODI matches with eight centuries and 17 half-centuries.
“He’s had a great start to his international career, in fact a much better start than I did,” Dravid said. “I think he has been brought up in the old school of batsmanship. He is developing more shots and he approaches Test cricket in the same way as I did.
“He’s got some good basics in place. You can see that he is constantly improving and he is someone who will find answers to questions. He is going to have his ups and downs and face a lot of challenges adapting to different forms of the game and conditions. With his attitude and the way he is going about playing his cricket, I think he will find answers to a lot of these questions and one of them will be one-day cricket.”
Coming back to the subject of Test cricket, Dravid noted that the International Cricket Council (ICC) and cricket boards around the world must learn to schedule Test series in a more organised fashion, otherwise the format will soon become nothing more than a memory of the past.
“One thing I’d like to see definitely is scheduling to be a lot better, and the ability for most countries to play a lot more Test cricket,” he said. “I’d love to see all the teams get the opportunity to play a lot more cricket against each other. I think it will really see Test cricket come up and improve, and the only way for it to survive is to play it as often as possible.”
Reminiscing about his Test debut, Dravid recalled how he always had an urge to perform well overseas as India were known to struggle in conditions abroad.
“I wanted to do well abroad in conditions that I wasn’t used to,” he said. “When I was growing up, one of my coaches stressed that you have to do well outside India to be judged a very good player. One of the things I found difficult adjusting to was bounce early on in my international career.
“When I went to Australia, South Africa or England for the first time, I would see some of the foreign top-order batsmen leave balls on length. As soon as the ball pitched on a particular area, they would leave it. Indian batsmen’s instinct was to play at those balls because if you left those balls in India, they would probably hit the top of off or middle stump. That ability to adjust to that bounce and know which ball to leave instinctively on length, especially early on in your innings, was one of the most difficult adjustments to play.”
Dravid also took some time to address the growing trend of playing the switch hit during Test matches, which was made popular by England batsman Kevin Pietersen after he switched hit Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for six.
“I can’t imagine the way some guys pull that off,” he said. “When I see someone like a [Kevin] Pietersen or [David] Warner pull it off, you can see the value of the shot like that. If you were to play the switch hit, then the wide rule should change as well. You should allow the bowler to bowl outside the off stump. I think it’s an incredibly skilful and difficult shot to play and I’m all for it as long as you give the bowler protection as well.”