Cheteshwar Pujara can be the solution to India’s middle order worries for the ODI side. Cheteshwar Pujara is an epitome of calmness and focus. In a dressing room occupied by tattoo lovers Virat Kohli and KL Rahul and players like Hardik Pandya who is seen sporting new hairstyles frequently, Pujara is a purist. His batting style and on-field behavior are reminiscent of the wall Rahul Dravid. There are some players who do not wait for the opportunity to knock their doors but crash the door open with consistently great performances in the domestic circuit. Cheteshwar Pujara is one such player.
He relentlessly scored runs in the domestic tournaments and finally made it to the national Test side in the year 2010. Since then, Pujara has been a pillar of India’s batting in Tests and has been instrumental in India’s Test success. Although Pujara expressed his interest to be a part of India’s ODI side as well, the tag of Test specialist hindered his entry into the side. The selectors have often ignored him. But with current Indian middle order woes in ODIs, there are reasons why Pujara should be considered for 50-over cricket. Let us have a look.
#1 Brings stability to the middle-order:
Cheteshwar Pujara can keep the scoreboard ticking and absorb pressure A middle-order batsman in the one day format is expected to bring stability to the batting lineup. Pujara is a calm and composed batsman who puts a high price on his wicket. He understands the significance of building partnerships and keeping the scoreboard ticking. Forming partnerships, picking up singles and doubles in the middle overs and not throwing away your wicket are three qualities that make a batsman suitable for middle-order.
A middle-order batsman in the one day format is expected to bring stability to the batting lineup. Pujara is a calm and composed batsman who puts a high price on his wicket. He understands the significance of building partnerships and keeping the scoreboard ticking. Forming partnerships, picking up singles and doubles in the middle overs and not throwing away your wicket are three qualities that make a batsman suitable for middle-order. Above three qualities help to absorb pressure which makes the middle-order stable and Pujara is very much capable of doing that. His innings are a perfect blend of singles, doubles, and boundaries.
#2 Plays as per the situation:
Defensive approach and slow strike rate are often associated with Cheteshwar Pujara. This may be true in Tests and First-class matches but in limited-overs cricket, Pujara has the capacity to play the attacking game. He plays as per the situation. Pujara has a wide range of shots and can execute them when the situation demands. In the knock of 94 of 127 balls in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final against Karnataka Pujara started off cautiously as Saurashtra had lost a couple of wickets in quick succession. He then tried to build the innings by stitching partnerships and switched gears at the end hitting boundaries at will. Almost all the innings of Pujara’s successful List A career demonstrate his ability to read the situation and switch gears when required.
#3 Plays spin and fast equally well:
A middle-order batsman is exposed to spin and fast bowling depending on the situation of the game and the type of pitch. Tackling fast bowlers in South Africa, Australia or England and spinners on subcontinental wickets with equal expertise is no mean task. Pujara is a genius at square cuts and late cuts against the spinners. He also uses his feet and wrists against the spinners to place the ball perfectly. Against the fast bowlers, Pujara is good at judging the direction of the swing. He can play a straight drive, a flick and a pull shot very well. Pujara’s stint with Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire at the English County has helped him a lot against the fast bowlers. Current middle-order players that include Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni, and Kedar Jadhav, have struggled a bit against a swinging ball or a short pitch ball.
#4 Outstanding List A record:
Cheteshwar Pujara’s List A i.e domestic limited overs career stats are splendid. In cricket, numbers speak volumes about a player’s capabilities. Let us have a look at Pujara’s List-A career stats.
An average of 54.17 with 10 centuries and 25 half centuries exhibits his consistency in the limited overs format. Pujara has been brilliant with the bat in domestic one-day tournaments like Deodhar Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy playing for West Zone and Saurashtra respectively.
#5 A great slip fielder:
One of the important factors that resulted in India’s recent Test series (2018) loss to South Africa was poor slip fielding. Although last year India just lost a single Test match, slip fielding was still a huge concern. Pujara is perhaps the only silver lining in a rather disappointing slip cordon. He is a brilliant slip fielder. Pujara’s slip fielding technique is as perfect as his batting technique. He normally occupies the first slip position which is employed in ODIs as well. Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan have not been up to the mark as far slip fielding is concerned. Ajinkya Rahane is a better slip fielder than Kohli and Dhawan but he too has dropped a few catches recently.
Courtesy: Smit Shah