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March 26, 2013
Former India captain Rahul Dravid has said Cheteshwar Pujara, who succeeded him at No. 3 in India's Test side, could have what it takes to perform in ODIs as well. He was speaking at 'A Day with Dravid', an ESPNcricinfo event in which nine cricket fans got the chance to interact with him from across the world.
Pujara has an average of 65 after 13 Tests, having scored four hundreds and three half-centuries, and has drawn comparisons with Dravid. He hasn't made his ODI debut yet, but in 61 domestic one-day matches Pujara averages 56.97, with eight hundreds and 17 fifties.
"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," Dravid said. "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."
Dravid also said, during the event, that Test cricket needed needed better scheduling, and more matches for all teams, in order to survive. "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."
He spoke in length about his desire to perform well abroad when he had started playing international cricket. He played first-class cricket in India for four years before making his Test debut in England, where he scored 95 at Lord's in 1996.
"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."
Answering fans' questions on the contemporary game and the changes it has seen over the years, Dravid expressed his admiration for the players who can play the switch hit, but also said he wanted the rule to be fair for the bowlers.
"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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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