An important factor in the Indian team's rise to the top of world cricket has been their batsmen forging strong partnerships. VVS Laxman-Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir-Virender Sehwag batted and battled together on many occasions to serve the team's cause well in all formats. As the team moves through its transition phase, the talk is about identifying men from Gen Next.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were thrashed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) game against Deccan Chargers on Thursday but for the visionaries of Indian cricket, the brief alliance in the middle between Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara gave a glimpse of a partnership which could serve the country in the future.
The two had been identified early as potential India players and Kohli is in the India one-day side and Pujara in the Test side. The former is expected to break into the Test side soon while the latter is working hard to impress the selectors in the shorter version of the game.
Big shoes to fill
Pujara admitted that the duo of Dravid and Laxman were an inspiration. The South Indian Test icons played a lot of their junior cricket together and the understanding developed could be seen during their partnerships in the senior team.
"Hopefully, we will form a good partnership. I have played in the under-19 team with Virat. (At the senior level) we have just started to play together, it might help us when we are playing for the country," said Pujara, a day after his entertaining 34-ball 62-run partnership with Kohli.
Pujara played down the talk of competition for India places between the two.
"I never believe in competition. Ultimately it is about individuals, earlier people said I was in competition with Dravid, and that I would take his place in the team, I never believed it. If you perform well no one is going to take you out of the team," said Pujara.
The Saurashtra player, however, is not hesitant to admit his ambition of wearing India colours in the limited overs format too, and feels that a strong performance in the IPL can help him get the breakthrough.
"The team has done very well in the World Cup and it is difficult to make it to the team but the IPL is the best platform for all the young players that they can play at the highest level. And, if I do well here, it will help my cause."