Matches (22)
IND v ENG (1)
PSL 2024 (3)
WPL (2)
WCL 2 (1)
Ranji Trophy (4)
CWC Play-off (3)
NZ v AUS (1)
Marsh Cup (1)
WI 4-Day (4)
BPL 2024 (2)

Rizwan: Pujara second only to Younis Khan when it comes to focus and concentration

Pakistan wicketkeeper picks up a few batting tips from India batter during pair's stint at Sussex

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Rizwan punch gloves during their partnership  •  Getty Images

Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Rizwan punch gloves during their partnership  •  Getty Images

Among all the batters Mohammad Rizwan has seen or played with, he believes Cheteshwar Pujara is second only to Younis Khan in terms of concentration.
Rizwan has been observing Pujara closely, with both players representing Sussex in the ongoing County Championship in England. Last month, Rizwan shared a 154-run partnership with Pujara to help their side to a mammoth first-innings lead against Durham.
"In my life, the player with the highest levels of concentration and focus I have seen is Younis bhai," Rizwan told "So No. 1 is Younis bhai. After that, it was Fawad Alam but now Pujara is No. 2 and Fawad Alam No. 3."
Pujara has averaged 143.40 so far this season with four centuries in seven innings, and shared a few tips with Rizwan on how to bat in English conditions.
"I try to find out what makes these three guys so good in terms of their focus and concentration," Rizwan said. "I keep talking to Younis bhai about this. With Fawad, I haven't talked a lot about this.
"With Pujara, I had a chat when I had just come to England and got out a couple of times. He told me a few things, that you should play close to your body. Now it is no secret that we play a lot of white-ball cricket and there we play well away from the body because the white-ball doesn't swing or seam much and you are always looking for runs.
"So here, I got out chasing a couple of wide deliveries early on. Then I sought him out at the nets and he said, 'in Pakistan or in Asia, we are accustomed to forcing our drives. You cannot force your drives over here. Secondly, you have to play closer to your body.'"
It's a rare occasion for an India international and a Pakistan international to represent the same team, but Rizwan said that it didn't feel "strange" at all. He also said that outside the international arena, cricketers feel part of a "larger family" and are looking to help each other get better at the game.
"Believe me, I haven't felt strange at all about it [playing alongside Pujara]. I even joke around with him and also tease him a lot. He is a very nice person and his concentration and focus are unreal. If you can learn something from someone else, you must take that opportunity.
"The cricket fraternity is like a family for us. But if you are playing for Pakistan and your own brother is playing for Australia, then you will, of course, try to get him out because you are playing for your country. But that fight happens only on the ground. Otherwise, we are like a family. If I say 'our Virat Kohli', then I will not be wrong. Or 'our Pujara', 'our Smith' or 'our Root', because we all are one family.
"Like Hasan Ali said that when he meets James Anderson, he would try to learn something from him. It just means we are all part of one family and we share knowledge with each other if it would help someone improve their cricket."

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx