India A skipper Cheteshwar Pujara on Wednesday said the presence of legendary Rahul Dravid as coach and mentor of the squad will help his team and him enormously in the series against the visiting Australia A side.
India A are scheduled to play two four-day matches, slated between July 22 and 25 and from July 29 to August 1 in Chennai.
“Dravid’s presence is really important. He is a great mentor. I have been in touch with him and have had many conversations with him. This will help me more because it is one thing to talk over the phone but quite another talking in person and spending quality time,” Pujara was quoted as saying by bcci.tv.
“He obviously has immense knowledge of the game but the way he puts it across and explains things, it makes you really comfortable. This is the first time I will have him as a mentor for a longer period and he will watch me play.”
Ever since he began playing first-class cricket in 2005, Pujara has come to be known in the domestic circuit as a run-machine. However, during the England and Australia tours last year, Pujara went through a phase he was not familiar with — a string of eight Test matches without a century. During that period, he managed to cross the 50-run mark only twice.
“You need to accept your failure. Because of the amount of runs I had been scoring before the England tour, I always thought that I can score a century every other game. So not being able to get runs was a frustrating experience for me. With time I learnt how to accept that,” he said.
The Rajkot-born then went to England to play for county side Yorkshire to find his lost mojo and reinvent himself in those conditions.
“I really enjoyed playing for Yorkshire. What worked for me was that technique is my strength and I know I can play in any conditions. Playing under Jason Gillespie was a good experience; he’s a very nice coach. The atmosphere in the dressing room was warm and welcoming,” the 27-year-old, who played 27 Tests scoring 2,073 runs, said.
When asked how important the upcoming four-day matches are in terms of regaining his place in the Test batting line-up, he said, “I have been part of the team on a regular basis but have missed out on a game here and there. I have been working hard on my game and I don’t think there should be any issues.
“All I can do is improve my game, irrespective of whether or not I am part of the team. That is the advice I have been getting from all the former greats and that is what I will continue to do.”