Why India needs to persist with Cheteshwar Pujara
While it is evident that he has had bad patches on the overseas tours, but it has to be taken into consideration that those were his first tours to the respective countries and to be fair to him, he did not do a very bad job either. With all these experiences in the bag, he is only going to get better from here.
Whenever we hear the name Cheteshwar Pujara, the first thing that comes to our minds is ‘solid’. He was once referred to as ‘The Future Wall’. That was the time when he made an entry into international cricket. Rahul Dravid had retired and India was looking for someone who could bring solidity at the no. 3 spot. He was put into the spot straight away and he backed up the expectations equally by scoring big runs. He scored two double centuries within a short span of time which showed that he has got the appetite for big runs.
People started comparing his firm technique with that of Rahul Dravid. Lots of cricket experts stated that India had found the replacement for Dravid. He once had an average of more than 60 in Test Cricket. But comparing a very young career of his with the illustrious one of Dravid was not fair on his part. He had played Test matches only at home and he was yet to prove himself on the foreign soil.
His real test begun when India marched for away tours, one after the other. He started promisingly in South Africa with a hundred at Johannesburg and a half century at Durban. But his nightmares started in New Zealand where he could score a total of mere 60 runs in 4 innings. Then followed the English tour, where he scored only one half century in 10 innings. In Australia he wasted all the good starts that he got in first 3 matches, which ultimately led to his exclusion from the side for the final Test. From 60, now the average has come down to 47.
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But since then, Pujara has worked extremely hard on his game. There were suggestions from the experts that Indian batsmen should go and play county cricket in England so that they can improve against the moving ball. He was the only player who went on to play county cricket. In his stint with Yorkshire, he did a decent job there and also now has the experience of playing against the late moving Duke balls.
Pujara has the technique to last long in Test Cricket which is evident by the fact that he scores most of his runs behind the square on the off side because he plays the ball very late. He can concentrate on the pitch for hours. He is mentally very strong. He has scored triple hundreds in domestic cricket which shows his temperament. Whenever he bats, he looks assured on the pitch.
All he needs to do right now is to bring back the sense of belonging in the Indian side like he used to have earlier. Even though he was excluded from the team, he was always in consideration for a place in the side. Why India needs to have faith in him is because he has shown glimpses of brilliance in the past. If he gains his confidence back, he is a top contender for the no. 3 spot. India has tried a number of players at that spot, but none of them have been consistent.
There is another argument whether he has been given enough number of chances to prove himself to be worthy of a place back in the side. Others have been preferred over him in the recent Test matches. The selectors need to show their faith in him and give him the opportunities. He has been raring to go for a while.