Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara (AFP Photo)

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has drawn parallels between Rahul Dravid and Cheteshwar Pujara saying both the batsmen, despite some differences, are essentially cut from the same cloth.

While outlining the characteristics a batsman should posses to succeed at the vital No. 3 spot in Test cricket, Chappell says, “There are two choices when selecting the type of number three batsman for a top-ranked Test side. There’s the instinctive counter-attacker who, despite his aggressive nature, still has the technical expertise to withstand a good spell with the new ball. The perfect example is Australia’s former batting champion Ricky Ponting.”

Further adding to that in his column for Mid-day, Chappell wrote, “If that type of player isn’t available then you need someone with the patience of a fly fisherman, a brick wall defence and the unselfish outlook that allows him to bury his ego in order to improve the chances of success for his fellow batsmen. The prototype for this type of number three is The Wall himself, India’s Rahul Dravid.Cheteshwar Pujara isn’t quite the snug fitting Armani suit that was Dravid at number three but he’s cut from the same cloth.”

It was Pujara’s defiance across two innings that has put India in pole position in the series opening first Test against Australia in Adelaide. While he scored a memorable century, his first in Australia, in the first innings, he recorded a half-century in India’s second dig as well to help them set a stiff target of 323.

The way Pujara defied Australian bowlers should serve as the blueprint for his teammates feels Chappell.

“He [Pujara] showed at Adelaide Oval the value of patience and persistence and a strong mindset. While these qualities helped him blunt the Australian attack they should also be a lesson to his more adventurous teammates. Between his dogged defiance and their desire-to-be-dominant style of batting there is an acceptable middle ground,” he wrote.

He also praised Ravichandran Ashwin for his vastly improved show on Australian shores saying the offspinner has learnt his lessons from previous visits to the country and is now better able to impose himself on the game.

“He [Ashwin] has shelved some of the variations that bedevilled him on the 2011-12 tour, causing him to leak runs like a rusty sieve. His variations are now of the subtle variety, allowing him to maintain control whilst still being on the attack. In an attritional Test match this was a luxury that allowed Virat Kohli to control Australia’s scoring rate,” Chappell, who played 75 Tests and 16 ODIs for Australia, said.

He continued, “… Pujara’s major contribution and the skill of Ravichandran Ashwin has India in with a chance to win in Adelaide. Such a confidence boosting victory would be a reminder of India’s 2003-04 achievement at the same venue when The Wall [Dravid] excelled in scoring a double century and a defiant 72 not out to ambush Australia.”