India had a lot of positives to take from the three-match Test series against New Zealand, but perhaps their biggest gain was the batting display of Cheteshwar Pujara who played with a lot of flair and made 373 runs in 6 innings which helped seal the debate about the place in the side once-it-for-all.
The 28-year-old has been heavily criticised for the slow nature of his play, but in the three matches against the Kiwis, he showed that he could hit boundaries with as much conviction as he could rotate strike and sealed his series with a brisk hundred in the second innings of the Indore Test.
Former India wicket-keeper Kiran More, who was the Chairman of the selection committee at one point, feels that the Saurashtra batsman has been unfairly criticised as being slow and admitted that it was not easy to face the new ball early on.
“There is a lot of unnecessary criticism about his batting.Facing the new ball when it is moving around is not easy (which Pujara has more often than not done, coming in at No. 3). It is much different from facing a 50-over old ball upfront. Why just Pujara? Any batsman would be a little cautious in their approach at that stage. He is too good a player to be facing such flak because of that,” More said.
India have found it difficult to get settled starts from their opening pair in recent times and Pujara has found himself, facing the new ball, which is about 6-7 overs old.
More further added that even a batsman of the quality of Sachin Tendulkar had to alter his game as he gained more experience and added that having seen Pujara from a young age, he has always seen him play according to what the situation demanded.
“Even Sachin Tendulkar's batting approach changed over the years. When he first came in, he used to bat very aggressively. But he mellowed down a lot and still played some excellent knocks for India. I have seen a lot of Pujara even as an age-group cricketer and all I can say is that he has always played according to the merit of the situation,” he said.
Pujara’s fine run against New Zealand will certainly come as a big boost for him, keeping in mind the bigger challenges that lie ahead of him and he will hope to maybe play a round of Ranji Trophy to get himself into the groove before the start of the England series.