He’s a patient accumulator of runs but is Cheteshwar Pujara just a little too slow for modern-day test cricket? It seems odd that a man with 90 tests behind him and an average at just over 45 should be under pressure but Pujara seems to be the man who receives the most criticism when anything goes wrong for India.
By handing him the Vice Captaincy for the first match in the series against New Zealand, it may seem that the selectors are giving him a vote of confidence but what will happen when Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma return to the side?
Do the Numbers Add Up?
The scores and averages may be impressive but the statistic that gets the most scrutiny is that of strike rate. For Cheteshwar Pujara, he’s scored at 44.32 per 100 balls which is considered a pedestrian by today’s standards.
If we compare with other batsmen in the Indian test team, Kohli averages at 56.50 per 100 balls, Rohit at 55.47 and Ajinkya Rahane at 49.18. Every team needs someone to be patient and to bat around the faster scorers but those are significant differences and it’s why a player of Pujara’s quality continues to have his place in the side questioned.
India Favourites to Overcome Kiwis
India’s test side may have experienced some issues on the road but they are extremely tough to beat on home surfaces. The series against New Zealand starts on November 17th with the first of three T20 internationals while two tests will follow in December.
Even without Virat Kohli for the first test and Rohit Sharma for the entire series, India is red hot favourites to win the test leg of New Zealand’s tour. Using odds supplied by sbo.net, the home side is expected to enjoy a very comfortable victory in this format.
If New Zealand performs well in the T20 series, there is some potential for those markets to change. Sbo.net will update their readers on any adjustments that come in while they will also publish news and opinion articles relating to the cricketing world.
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Ongoing promotions plus a choice of funding options and the possibility of live streaming international cricket are among the other potential benefits. It’s a comprehensive website but what role will Cheteshwar Pujara have in keeping India ahead of its opponents?
Waiting in the Wings
If Cheteshwar Pujara does make way after the first test against New Zealand, who comes in to take his place? An obvious candidate is Virat Kohli who will walk back into the team and claim his regular position as national test captain.
With Kohli guaranteed a slot, it’s difficult to see who else would make way unless Pujara makes a big contribution and one of the other top-order batsmen fails in both innings.
If India wants to look beyond the New Zealand series and into the future, they could consider any of a number of young, talented batters. Ruturaj Gaikwad was the top scorer at IPL 14 but he can be an accumulator of runs in the red-ball format.
Gaikwad’s first-class average of 38.54 needs some improvement but he’s only 24 and has plenty of time to develop.
Another man to have made an impression at the Indian Premier League is Devdutt Padikkal of Royal Challengers Bangalore. At the age of 21, he’s still very raw at first-class level and, like Gaikwad, he needs to improve his red-ball statistics.
The issue for the selectors is that there is no obvious like-for-like replacement for Cheteshwar Pujara. With the IPL a major focus for young players, the aim is to score quickly rather than be the patient accumulator of runs that test cricket will always need.
That factor will work in his favour but, when that test series against New Zealand gets underway, the pressure will be on Pujara and he needs to score big to silence the critics.
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