Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar heaped praise on middle-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who played a key role in India's historic Test series win against Australia.
“I think Pujara has been really outstanding,” Tendulkar said on the sidelines of a promotional event on Wednesday.
“There have been number of statements on Pujara, which ideally weren’t in his favour and kind of undermined his contribution. But somewhere, Pujara has been instrumental in laying that solid foundation,” Tendulkar said.
“Virat (Kohli) scored runs in the second Test, in the third Test Ajinkya (Rahane) had that crucial partnership (in the series). Then Rishabh (Pant), (Ravindra) Jadeja, all these guys have done well. Mayank (Agarwal) got off to a good start, but if I have to pin point one guy then Pujara stands out along with other fast bowlers,” he added.
The former India skipper also showered praise on the Indian fast bowlers who have been exceptional off late.
“The team has done really well. The brand of cricket that India has been able to produce has been magnificent. We need heroes in life. Without realising, you end up becoming a hero for younger generation and that cycle continues,” Tendulkar said.
While India’s head coach Ravi Shastri stated that the series win was as important as the World Cup win in 1983, Tendulkar admitted that results ‘like these are really important.’
“I still remember when I was a 10-year-old, I did not know much about cricket. But I knew that India had won the World Cup (in 1983). That’s when my journey started. Hopefully, many journeys have already started and you need these kind of results to inspire them and to make them believe and go out and get laurels for our nation. That’s exactly what we want,” the Master Blaster said.
“Things won’t happen overnight. We have got quality fast bowlers. The guys are talented. Bumrah, Shami, Ishant, Kuldeep, Ashwin and Jadeja. Umesh played one Test match. All this guys chipped in at various points. The spinners have also chipped in, so it is not just the fast bowlers,” he said.
“What you also want is to see your fast bowlers come and bowl those hostile overs in patches and that has happened more frequently. It is not just about the new balls, it was also to do with the old balls and how consistent, one kept bowling at 140-plus. That’s one thing which is pleasing to the eye. I can comfortably say, we are ready to play anywhere in the world and be extremely competitive,” he added.
'Create infrastructure for sportspersons'
Highlighting the need for better infrastructure, the cricket icon said, "I am speaking for sportspersons, not just cricketers. If infrastructure gets better and better, we can dominate in other sports along with cricket. Dipa Karmarkar and many others gave us a pleasant surprise, let there be more pleasant surprises. There is lot of talent in our country,’’ Tendulkar said.
During the series, Australian commentator Kerry O’Keefe drew flak for ridiculing India’s domestic cricketing structure, but Tendulkar is not bothered about those talks.
“I am not concerned about what someone in Australia, England or South Africa is saying,” he said.
“In domestic cricket of course, I feel, we need more challenging wickets for batters. It would help the standard of playing and we have had number of opinions on this but I have always felt that if you play on difficult tracks, your standard of playing automatically goes up.
“That’s what I would like to see in domestic cricket, to have surfaces which are challenging to batters, but that doesn’t mean the bowlers should just come and throw their arm over,” he added.
Tendulkar, who is the mentor of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Mumbai Indians said the tournament has had tremendous contribution in helping building characters.
“When you start sharing dressing rooms with leading international cricketers and spend time together for two months, it is really a great thing. Earlier, when we were playing, I would see (Glenn) McGrath after four years, but now, when you have someone sitting in the same dressing room and practising with you for 60 days, you know what exactly to expect from that guy. It is other way round as well,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar further stated that the IPL has given exposure to youngsters.
“It has given that belief that they can go out and compete against anyone in the world. We are in that fortunate position to go out and dominate world cricket. We have a right balance of senior cricketers and young talents,” Tendulkar said.
“If you do well in the IPL, everyone takes notice. IPL gives you recognition and it takes you to a different level. We keep seeing more and more young talents coming up,” the former captain summed up.
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