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    Rahul Dravid returns as 25-year-old Pujara

    You have read it right. That straight elbow, bat and pad together, that watertight defence, those copybook strokes - Dravid is back in front of the wickets, 15 years younger. And in this avatar, he is known by the name of Cheteshwar Pujara.

    "His positive approach and attitude will definitely take him miles" was once said about Pujara. At present he is more than 2700 miles away from home, but absolutely at home when on those 22 yards, watered by the sweat of his brow during hours of concentration.

    He is leading India A in South Africa but more importantly acting as India's undercover agent, gathering every piece of information a touring team needs to win a Test series in the Rainbow Nation. And on Saturday, he cracked an important three figure code - a hundred on foreign soil, his 21st in first class cricket.

    In numbers, Pujara scored 141 in his team's 281 for 3 on day one of the first four-day game against South Africa A, but in real measure, he added strength to the growing belief that a Test series win for India in South Africa is not a fleeting thought, but a viable dream.

    Pujara is indisputably India's most valuable asset today. In the Indian middle order mostly devoid of the pluck Test cricket demands, especially overseas, Virat Kohli and Pujara will be the key performers in testing South African conditions in November-Decemeber. And the resolute 25-year-old established that as a fact in Rustenburg on Friday.

    The good signs look better with 70 not out in front of Rohit Sharma's name. He and Pujara forged a 176-run partnership, showing South Africa an intro to the feature India may script at the dawn of 2014. If Rohit can borrow some consistency from Kohli and Pujara, the three will fit nicely in the blocks left vacant by Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly's exit.

    And if Sachin Tendulkar too comes to the party ... oh my God!