Cheteshwar Pujara should remain India’s Test experiment

Just as well as Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers played in the first Test, India found its own stubborn and adroit batsman in Cheteshwar Pujara. He was unfortunate to be run-out in the first inning but made up for it in the second. Had Virat Kohli not suckered him in the first inning, Pujara would’ve scored at least a half-century. 

Cheteshwar Pujara appears to be the perfect Test batsman. Just as a man with a drink in his hand and a cigar on his lips resting his legs on an ottoman, Pujara is in no hurry. Early on in his innings, he stays away from balls outside off like the plague. He defends the good balls and simply caresses bad ones. He doesn’t look to thrash the ball but gently strokes it for runs. Every time he hits a boundary, his head is right over the ball and his eyes are boring a hole in it. He almost never hits the ball in the air. He did not hit a single six in the entire first Test which included an innings of 153. 

If he is selected in the Indian team for ODIs, there is no doubt he will perform. He has the technique and the eagerness to learn. Hitting sixes may not be his strong point, but finding gaps is. His strike rate might not be world beating but eventually like Dravid did, he will find his way of scoring runs.

Unfortunately with fielders diving around, the gaps have become smaller. Batsmen are required to hit the ball just a little harder to get boundaries. Hitting the ball harder requires a slight adjustment in the back lift, the speed of the bat swing and perhaps not getting too close to the ball. Again, I’m pretty sure he will find a way. 

However, in the process of adapting to limited over internationals, his Test performance might get affected. He might still score hundreds, but maybe not as big. He might start scoring faster or he might get out chasing balls outside the off. Cricketers have often mentioned how difficult it is to transition from ODIs to Test. In the domestic circuit he has no troubles shifting from One-Days to 4 day games but the difference between international and domestic cricket is the difference between the pace of Vinay Kumar and Mitchell Johnson.

Cheteshwar Pujara should remain India’s Test experiment; a study revealing just how well a cricketer can perform if he concentrates only on one format. The ODI team seems strong enough. At least till the 2015 World Cup, CP should be kept away from the white ball.

In this second Test, he remains unbeaten on 58 as rain threatens to give Kallis a soggy farewell. It would be a huge injustice if one of the game’s greatest all-rounders didn’t get to display his skills with the bat one last time in Test cricket. 

This is a personal opinion and we would love to read your views in the comments section below.

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