Cheteshwar Pujara was the pillar behind India’s maiden series win in Australia in 2018-19. He scored 3 centuries in 4 Tests. Incidentally, the last Test century that he scored also came in that series. His knock of 193 at Sydney was his last Test century. Pujara has had a barren run of form since then. His inability to move the scoreboard and dig deep hurt India in the WTC finals. Pujara’s failure in the first Test against England raised a lot of questions. He is under a lot of pressure. It reflected in his mode of dismissal in the first innings of the 2nd Test. Time is running out for Pujara and India might be looking to replace him heading into the 3rd Test. Lets look at Who Can Replace Pujara In The Next Test
Who Can Replace Pujara In The Next Test
#4 Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav has taken his white-ball cricket to the next level in the last couple of years. He has made his India debut in both ODIs and T20Is this year. Yadav was a surprise inclusion to the Test squad. He has completed his quarantine. Yadav averages a solid 44 across domestic games with 14 centuries to his name. He is in a rich vein of form currently. Yadav will like to translate his white-ball success into the red-ball format. But it won’t be easy batting in English conditions. His positive attitude will surely work in his favour. He will start 4th in the pecking order. Yadav most likely might play at number 5.
#3 Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari is one of the most underrated Indian Test batsmen. He isn’t as flashy as his contemporaries hence there is not much noise surrounding his selection. Vihari played a wonderful hand in India’s defiance in Sydney. He played a valiant knock despite suffering from a hamstring injury. Vihari’s defensive technique is right up there with the very best. But considering Rahane’s poor form, Vihari may be slotted at number 5 rather than at number 3.
#2 Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw has had a stop-start international Test career. He scored a Test hundred on Debut in 2018. In his brief 5-Test career, he has a century and 2 half-centuries to his name. Shaw struggled with both the mental and technical aspects of the game in Australia in 2020. He was dropped after a lone failure. Despite that, he averages 42.4 with his x-factor being his strike rate (86). Shaw might be a left-field inclusion at number 3 but an opener by nature he might be the right choice to replace Pujara.
#1 Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal was India’s first-choice opener but a freak injury before the first Test saw him miss out. Agarwal has been one of India’s main batting weapons in the first WTC cycle. He averages a fine 45.7 with 3 centuries and 4 half-centuries to his name. Agarwal had a terrific India-A tour to England. He will be keen to make an impression playing at number 3. Mayank Agarwal is the most likely candidate to replace Pujara at number 3.