This is how Cheteshwar Pujara felt during Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell Test
When Sachin Tendulkar arrived for the final time to bat, the noise had reached its zenith. It was the loudest cheer Cheteshwar Pujara had ever heard on the field.Updated: Jun 30, 2017 16:01 IST
Cheteshwar Pujara recalled how Sachin Tendulkar played a massive role in his century during the legendary Indian batsman’s farewell Test at the Wankhede Stadium in November 2013.
The Wankhede Stadium was abuzz with Tendulkar’s final appearance for India. When the ‘Little Master’ arrived for the final time to bat, the noise had reached its zenith. It was the loudest cheer Pujara had ever heard on the field.
“I was standing with the West Indian team when Sachin paaji walked in to bat. And the crowd… the kind of noise they were making, it was the loudest. I have been part of the IPL and ODI teams, but that was the loudest I have ever heard on a cricket field,” Pujara said.
“And initially, I didn’t know what to do. When he walked in, he told me something and I couldn’t hear what he said. So, I had to ask him again.”
The advice from Tendulkar came at the right time as the frenzied atmosphere made it difficult for Pujara to concentrate on his batting.
“He told me ‘whatever is happening around, we don’t need to focus on that. We just have to be in our zone. We will focus on the things which we have to focus on’,” Pujara said on ‘What The Duck’ show’s second season.
“It made a lot of sense because I didn’t know what to do at that time. After what he told, I started focusing on what I had to do. And eventually I got a hundred.”
Although the Test will firmly be remembered for Tendulkar’s 74 off 118 balls exploits, Pujara (113) and Rohit Sharma (111 not out) scored vital centuries as India posted 495 in reply to West Indies’ 182 in first innings.
Pujara also shared his experience of batting with Tendulkar.
“When I hit a four no one would clap. And when I take a single, they would clap loudly. I didn’t know whether to hit a four or take a single,” said Pujara, describing the crowd’s reaction whenever he batted alongside the Indian batting great.
Pujara also opened up about why his father Arvind, who was also his coach, did not allow him to celebrate festivals and play tennis-ball cricket.
“I was not allowed to celebrate any festivals, starting from Holi as my eyes might get burnt. In Diwali there is a chance that my hand might get burnt or there is a chance of some injury. Then it was garba. I was just allowed to go and watch because I could never convince him (father) that if I played garba it might improve my footwork,” Pujara said.
The Test specialist was barred from batting and bowling in tennis ball cricket during his childhood.
“I wasn’t allowed to play with a tennis ball. The reason was that tennis ball has a different bounce. So, you wouldn’t have the same footwork what you have with a season ball. His theory was ‘you will end up spoiling your footwork’. So, whenever I played gully cricket, I would stand behind the stumps and do wicketkeeping,” he concluded.
First Published: Jun 30, 2017 16:00 IST