Pujara back where it all started — in Mumbai
Coming off last week's maiden double ton at Motera, the Mumbai sky now seems like the limitless roof for No.3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara. But a decade ago, the only roof he would stare at nervously in this city was that of a brown, dull, under-construction building in Rabala at Panvel, somewhere on the remote fringes of this city. Ten years on, the scaffolding of his career is neatly piled at home in Rajkot now, and Pujara is on his way to build a skyscraper of runs now.
In Mumbai for the second Test against England, Pujara returns to the city that stoked his hunger for big tons. Barely 11-years-old, Cheteshwar packed his bags for Mumbai alongwith father Arvind, a former Saurashtra batsman and his now-deceased mother Rina. The family of three braved it out in that under-construction enclosure at Panvel, which is now part of Navi Mumbai. Reaching there by bus was a tough, circuitous task.
Pujara Sr had decided to come to Mumbai after consulting the Rajkot-born former India pacer Karsan Ghavri, who has played a major role in Cheteshwar's career. But it started with an informal trial at the BPCL ground where Ghavri took a long, appraising look at the young boy's batting. "As a father there is a chance of being biased. So I consulted Ghavri and requested him to take a look at him," Arvind recalls. Ghavri was impressed even then. "He had superb technique. I told his father if he continued to work hard, he'd play for India," recalls Ghavri.
A biannual routine
A humble railway employee, Pujara Sr decided that the family would come to Mumbai twice a year, as this was the hub of Indian cricket — a nursery of batsmanship. His mother carefully put aside savings from the household budget to be used for this annual month-long stay.