The axe effect: Soul-searching time for Cheteshwar Pujara

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Cheteshwar Pujara Photo

Cheteshwar Pujara

In a rather surprising move, India kept Cheteshwar Pujara out from the playing eleven at Sydney, and brought in Rohit Sharma instead. It wasn’t as if Pujara was scoring runs by the heap that his axe should come as a surprise. But, him being rated so highly, and occupying arguably the most important batting slot in the team — at number three — not many would have bet on him being left out. But, the Indian think tank obviously thought otherwise, and decided to keep Pujara out, the first time he has actually been dropped from the side in spite of being fit.

The axe will definitely come as a setback to the prolific Saurashtra batsman, but it will also give him an opportunity to do some soul-searching. Once in a while, being away from the rigours of tough Test challenges is not a bad thing. Pujara must utilise this opportunity to look at where he is going wrong, and try to take corrective measures for the same. He won a lot of admiration for staying back in England following the disastrous tour there last year, and playing county cricket for Derbyshire. It was a move worth applauding, but it is clear by now, that whatever he did, he still has a long way to go to improve his credentials as a Test player.

In five Tests in England, and three Tests in Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara has only managed two half-centuries combined. More shockingly, he has struggled equally against both fast bowlers and pacers. There have been numerous occasions when he has been late on the ball against the faster men, and has ended up losing his stumps. More shockingly, he has struggled against spin as well. The underrated Moeen Ali got his number more than once in England, with Pujara actually falling to soft dismissals. In Australia as well, Pujara has rather inexplicably fallen prey to Nathan Lyon.

Above photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 30: Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates after bowling Cheteshwar Pujara of India during day five of the Third Test match between Australia and India at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 30, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The main reason why Cheteshwar Pujara was expected to succeed in places like Australia and England was because he was said to possess the technique to deal with the tough conditions. He has tasted success in these countries during the A tours as well. Pujara began the away journey marvellously with a hundred in Johannesburg. Since though he has come unstuck in New Zealand, England and Australia as well. His low backlift has been causing him trouble, and the short ball has been utilised to excellent effect against him. Pujara needs to go back to the drawing table, and start from scratch.

Posted by on January 6, 2015. Filed under India, India Tour of Australia 2014/15, OyeCricket Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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