LONDON: Pakistan wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Rizwan wishes to have focus and concentration levels of his County team-mate Cheteshwar Pujara as he looks to improve as a red-ball cricketer.
Pujara has made a strong case for a Test comeback with two hundreds and as many double hundreds in his campaign for Sussex in County Championship Division 2.
The Indo-Pak pairing had shared a 154-run stand against Durham earlier this month and they playing for the same team has also attracted a lot of positive attention on social media.
Rizwan, who was named the ICC Player of the Year for 2021, rates Pakistan’s Younis Khan and Fawad Alam very highly when it comes to batting with unwavering concentration but he has now added Pujara to the list.
“...As far as myself and Pujara are concerned, I didn’t feel anything strange [on the lines of India-Pakistan rivalry].
“And hopefully, if you ask him, his answer will be the same as mine. Although I do share a laugh with him and tease him (laughs) and everyone in the team knows this,” Rizwan told Cricwick when asked about the time spend with the India veteran.
Heaping praise on Pujara, Rizwan said: “He is a very nice and loving guy. And his concentration and focus too... If you get a chance to learn something, you should do it.
“In terms of concentration levels and I told this to the coaches here too. In my whole career, the players with most focus, concentration are Younis bhai, Fawad Alam and his [Pujara’s].
“Pujara is second on my list and Fawad Alam on three in terms of pure concentration and focus. I rate these three players very highly.” Regular white-ball cricket can affect your discipline in the longer-format and Rizwan said advice from Pujara helped him on that front.
“...in terms of the focus and concentration levels, there is a time when that starts dropping low ... I will try to figure how these three players have so intense focus and concentration. I keep on talking with Younis bhai, I couldn’t talk much with Fawad recently on this.
“And with Pujara, I had a chat with him after I got out early. He told me a few things and one of them was to play close to the body. And as everyone knows, we have been playing white-ball cricket consistently over the past few years and play a bit away from our body.
“In white-ball, you don’t play very close to your body since the ball doesn’t swing or seam as much.” “So early on here, I played away from my body and got out twice in a similar way,” he said.
“Then I went over to meet him in the nets and I remember him saying that when we play in Asia, we force the ball to play the drive. Here, we don’t need to do that. And we need to play close to the body. So these are the things which he told me and whatever he learned from me, he can tell.”
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022