Rajkot: Cheteshwar Pujara is hitting the ball easily. The sound of his bat meeting the cherry penetrates the quiet. As you are drawn into the experience, you can feel that the watching children are additionally hypnotised by the arrangement unfurling before them.
At that point, trying to defend against the short ball, India’s Test expert requests that the bowlers bowl from a large portion of the 22-yard separation of the pitch. As his child dodges one bouncer after another, Pujara’s dad Arvind, who bends over as his mentor, clarifies the rationale behind the cut-off pitch.
“It means that he’s now training against bowling at the speed of 150 kmph. You don’t need a bowling machine with this tactic,” explains the senior Pujara.
Welcome to the Cheteshwar Pujara Academy. Situated in Taragadi, a modest helmet 16 km off Rajkot on the roadway to Jamnagar, the ground is spread crosswise over six sections of land. It trains 30 maturing cricketers without charging a solitary rupee from them. Aside from instructing the diversion to the children, the scene additionally gives Pujara a perfect vibe to prepare before big tours. Watching Pujara bat in the nets and in the practice recreations itself is a training for the young men. The special reward is the guiding conferred by Arvind and sibling Bipin – both previous Ranji Trophy players for Saurashtra.
“Growing up, I struggled to get good cricketing facilities,” Cheteshwar tells TOI after sweating it out in the nets, far removed from the glitz of the IPL. “I don’t want today’s kids to suffer similarly. This is my idea of giving back to the game. I don’t want to earn from this,” he adds.
“When I bought the land around four years back, it was all rocky terrain. We had to work hard to just level it first,” he remembers, “There’s a well too near the boundary, but that was left untouched, to keep the natural sanctity of the place intact,” Pujara added.
“We take trainees from all over Gujarat, based purely on talent. Here, one can practice in peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The atmosphere here, as you can feel, is calm and serene. My dream is to produce an Indian player through this project,” beams Pujara, as he watches the trainees holding their fitness drills.
“I want to make this place into a world-class academy. It’s good enough to host Ranji Trophy games,” he says.
“We use sewage water for the ground,” says Arvind. “I trained `Chintu’ on a cement pitch when he was a kid because that helps improve concentration levels, as you’ve to play more deliveries than you can leave.”
Today, Pujara earns Rs 2 Cr for every annum in the wake of being elevated to Grade ` A’ among BCCI’s midway contracted players. Not having a lucrative IPL contract, however, would make it marginally troublesome for him to keep up an institute which doesn’t exist for business purposes – a good cricket ball alone expenses, in any event, Rs 200 these days. To build up this beautiful ground and the foundation promotes, the Pujaras will surely require supports at some stage. Maybe, some certified aficionado of the diversion will contribute then. For the present, Pujara, as he accomplishes for India, is conveying this uncommon `innings’ of his life all on his shoulders alone.
With the inputs of TOI.