Pragyan Ojha believes Cheteshwar Pujara is unlikely to start for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2021. But the former spinner was quick to add that the right-handed batsman could feature in the latter stages of the tournament as a replacement.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who will return to the IPL scene after a seven-year hiatus, last featured in the competition in 2014. Having forged a reputation as a Test specialist, many eyebrows were raised after CSK roped him in at the IPL 2021 Auction.
Speaking to Sports Today, Pragyan Ojha explained that he doesn’t expect Pujara to be a part of CSK's playing XI unless one of their first team players becomes unavailable.
"I don't see Pujara in the CSK first-XI, he will be part of the dressing room but I don't see him in the first XI. Maybe he can be a replacement for somebody later on in the tournament but he won't start," said Ojha.
Bought by CSK for ₹50 lakh, Cheteshwar Pujara faces stiff competition for a place in the side. He will compete with the likes of Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad for the opening slot.
Middle-order batsmen Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu are also ahead of him in the pecking order. It remains to be seen whether Pujara will get a chance to prove his T20 credentials in IPL 2021.
Pragyan Ojha inspired by Cheteshwar Pujara’s IPL comeback
Over the years, IPL teams have refrained from buying Cheteshwar Pujara due to doubts over his ability to score at a brisk rate. However, he is one of the few batsmen who has fought back into the IPL reckoning through his Test performances. And Pragyan Ojha feels Pujara’s comeback tale is an inspirational one.
"He's got his chance after seven years so this itself is an inspirational tale for all the youngsters that you never lose hope, things will change around," added Ojha.
Cheteshwar Pujara averages 20.52 in 30 IPL games, while his strike rate reads 99.74. Although the batsman has claimed he is confident about doing well in the shortest format if given a chance, Pragyan Ojha warned that T20 cricket is a different ball game altogether.
"Pujara is a brilliant batsman, any format you talk about he has the skill and the temperament to play. He can perform, he's got the ability. But when we talk about T20 cricket, it is far away from Tests. You have to be very fit, the challenges are different on the field. That will be a challenge for Pujara. But other than that, I'm very happy for him,” explained Ojha.