Rahul Dravid brushed aside suggestions that there were similarities between himself and Cheteshwar Pujara, saying each player is different.
Speaking at Guru Nanak college in Chennai, where he was the chief guest for the Junior Super Kings T20 tournament, Dravid praised Pujara for the manner in which he has picked himself up after being dropped for the first Test in England earlier this year.
"I do not like this comparison," he said when asked if he sees a bit of himself in Pujara. "Each one is different. But he has been brilliant in the series. Touch wood, India go on to win tomorrow (Sunday). He, then, would have played two match-winning innings in two Test matches that India would have won. That is what it is all about. At the end of the day, you want to produce a match-defining or match-turning innings.
"And that is what Pujara has done; not only in this series, if you look through his career as well, a lot of his innings have come in quite difficult situations. So, yes, I think it is terrific the way he has been playing and the way the team has sort of rallied around him in some ways. The manner in which he has come back after not getting picked for the first Test match in the UK was brilliant."
Dravid was also lavish in praise of the Indian bowling attack, saying they had the ability to pick 20 wickets in every Test. He said India were blessed with a good bench strength as well, but stressed on the need to keep increasing the pool.
"It is fantastic to see the kind of bowling we have been doing. We have consistently been taking 20 wickets, and look like taking 20 wickets in every Test," he said. "When you start a Test knowing your bowling attack can take 20 wickets, it gives you a huge fillip. You know you are going to be in the contest right through. At the moment, we have got four or five guys (pacers). The bench strength in the fast bowling is pretty good. You’ve got (Mohammed) Siraj performing really well at the A-level. Navdeep Saini has done well for us. You have Ankit Rajpoot. It’s nice to see Varun Aaron taking wickets in the domestic scene again.
"But you need to keep working on it. That is the thing with fast bowling, and you have got to ensure you have got enough people. We have a good focus on strength and fitness. Even the Ranji trophy teams now have good strength and conditioning coaches, and physiotherapists. Even right from the u-19 level, we have been managing our boys well.
"I think it is about making better athletes. If you make better athletes with good guidance and coaching, you are going to make good fast bowlers. We need to be happy with what we are doing at the moment, but we never should relax and realise we are always gonna need good bowlers; not only fast bowlers but also spinners."
Dravid said the increase in pool of players was a result of a robust domestic structure, which includes Under-19 and India A cricket.
"I think the India-A and the u-19 programmes over the last two-three years have been really good. I have really enjoyed being a part of it and working to help set it up. It is really good to see the kind of talent that is coming through now and the talent we are getting to work with," he said.
"It is just a question of us refining that process and constantly learning from all the tours and the series we get; how we can make it (the programme) more robust, and how we can give more opportunities to the players who are performing in the Ranji trophy. It is a really good and meaningful programme."