HomeICC Cricket World CupIndiaThe Curious Case Of Cheteshwar Pujara

The Curious Case Of Cheteshwar Pujara

Curious Case Of Cheteshwar Pujara: The national selectors announced the Test and the ODI squad for India’s tour of the West Indies. There were a few new names in both squads as the selectors have shown the inclination to groom young blood. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad have been inducted into the side. India will field a new number 3 and it will be down to either Jaiswal or Gaikwad. Their inclusion comes at the expense of veteran Cheteshwar Pujara.

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We explore the curious case of Cheteshwar Pujara:

#1 A memorable debut year

Cheteshwar Pujara made his Test debut in 2010 against South Africa. He didn’t have the greatest of returns in his debut series but his fielding at short leg caught everyone’s eye. Pujara’s moment though came in the Bengaluru Test against Australia later that year. Chasing a tricky target of 200+ on the final day, captain MS Dhoni promoted Pujara to number 3. He scored a quick-fire 72 negating the spin threat from the Aussies. India completed a series sweep of 2-0 and Pujara showed that he belonged. 

#2 The anchor during the transition phase 

Cricket fans and experts saw a lot of similarities between Rahul Dravid and Pujara. It felt like a natural passing of the baton as both the players boasted of a solid technique. Pujara grew into India’s number 3 in the 2012-13 home season. He had his best Test batting numbers during these two years. Pujara averaged 81.75 in 2012 and 75.36 in 2013 scoring 3 centuries apiece in both these years. India appeared to have unearthed a terrific number 3 ahead of their overseas assignments in 2013-15.

#3 The cracks started showing 

Pujara had a great start in the overseas cycle as he smashed a top century against South Africa. But that was arguably his only knock of substance in the whole away sojourn. Pujara went without scoring a century in New Zealand, and Australia. He had to be dropped to accommodate Rohit Sharma in Australia. Pujara’s spot was no longer a confirmed entity. He made his comeback in Sri Lanka in 2015 scoring a brilliant 145 on a tough wicket. But the competition for spots meant Pujara was on his toes. 

#4 The golden period 

India under Virat Kohli started playing a different brand of Test cricket in 2016. The side was clear that they needed batsmen who could push the scoring at all times. Pujara battled his way through to gel into this method. He had a fine run between August 2016-January 2019. Pujara scored 11 centuries in this period. He was the player of the series in India’s historic maiden series win in Australia in 2018-19. 

#5 The downward spiral 

Pujara post that series was seen as among the finest Test batters of the generation. But post that historic high, Pujara’s game nosedived. He scored a solitary century against Bangladesh in 2022 after his 193 against Australia in January 2019. In this period of 4.5 years, India’s number 3 scoring just a single century painted a sorry picture. He was dropped from the squad in January 2022 but made a comeback in June 2022 when India played England in the one-off Test. Pujara made a comeback on the basis of a strong showing in county cricket.

#6 The writing was on the wall

After India’s tame surrender on the final day of the 2023 WTC Final, the writing was firmly on the wall. Indian selectors had to take a tough call. The fans were mighty upset on losing yet another ICC final. Heads had to roll and Pujara with his meagre returns of 181 runs in 2023 at an average of 25.85 was an easy choice. At 35 years, Pujara is not getting any younger. It might not be the end of his Test career but a comeback similar to one last year looks a bit improbable at this point in time.

Vignesh Rajagopal
Vignesh Rajagopalhttps://stumpsandbails.com/
I am a passionate cricket lover, who likes to express his views on the beautiful game and share insights and analysis about the finer aspects of the sport.

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T20 WORLD CUP 2024 POINTS TABLE

GROUP A

TEAMMWLPTNRR
IND22041.455
USA22040.626
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