Cheteshwar Pujara was the top scorer for his team Saurasthra in Vajay Hazare Trophy
Cheteshwar Pujara has been in good form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 © Getty Images

Whenever Cheteshwar Pujara is off duty, the budding cricketers in the outskirts of Rajkot regularly keep a tab of the performance of their favourite hero. With all the money from Indian Premier League (IPL), cricketers invest heavily on bungalows, cars or farm house, but the 30-year-old Pujara chose to invest on six acres of land and built cricket pitches on it to persuade the budding cricket talents. Since he is fulfilling his father’s dream, the Pujaras do not take a single rupee from the kids. This space of land which is located 5 kilometres away from Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) helps to sharpen the talent in the village where Arvind Pujara and his son reside. READ: Rajkot IPL franchise will greatly benefit young Gujarati cricketers: Cheteshwar Pujara

As most of the trainees are poor, Pujara has arranged ways to pick them up from home. He has also arranged for a Van that helps to transmit kids in and around Rajkot and drop them at the ground. Pujara said, “Rajkot doesn’t have any ground where children can practice regularly. In Mumbai, you have Shivaji Park and Azad Maidan where proper good-quality nets take place. I was lucky that Railway gave us one pitch to practice but that is not available anymore. Someone has to provide them the basic facilities otherwise, how will they grow as cricketers?,” Pujara told indianexpress.com 

The space comprises of a small gym, dressing room, a bowling machine that runs on battery and a roller machine purchased few months ago. A bathroom and a small restroom are still under construction. The space consists of six pitches and is huge as compared to any average stadium in many cities. “I was lucky that I have my father who looked after me and my cricket but there are many here who just can’t afford this sport. I remember one evening after the IPL, my dad told me to let’s have a big ground where we can train and train others too. I just couldn’t say no to it,” Pujara explains. Since the kids cannot afford cricket accessories, he has also provided them with jerseys and shoes. READ: Cheteshwar Pujara top-scores for Saurashtra in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 match vs Himachal Pradesh

The No. 3 batsman in Tests for Team India went on to add, “One needs match practice and that is how I developed my game. I travelled to Mumbai often to play practice games. The only time these boys play matches is when some district tournament happens. I know people might think that I have taken a gamble by having a full-fledged ground but God has given me so much. However, it takes lot of money to maintain this ground but things will be fine [financially] till the time I am playing for India. But sooner or later we will have to look out for sponsors. ” His father feels that this investment will help them to bring on the next Pujara, “Woh paisey ka fayada he kya, joh kisey ke kaam na aaye. (What’s the use of the money which doesn’t do well to anyone?) If this ground manages to produce international cricketers, our dream will be achieved.”