Cheteshwar Pujara’s non-selection for the West Indies tour did not create an uproar in social media, as it would have if Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma were not selected. Well, leave aside Kohli and Rohit, many critics are still wondering when Mumbai’s Sarfaraz Khan will finally be picked, while Pujara’s absence from the squad is almost an inevitable decision at the same time. It was seen from when he failed in both the innings of the WTC final against Australia at the Oval ground in London.
But, if you are one of the fans of Pujara, then you must be disappointed that why this player was made a scapegoat for his failure in the final of the World Test Championship? Pujara is such an exceptional player in modern cricket who is seen as a specialist in Test cricket. It always harms them. Because the other players of the team manage to cover the simple figures of their Test cricket by scoring runs in IPL or in ODI or T20 cricket, but this does not happen with Pujara.
The naysayers can certainly argue that Pujara hasn’t done anything like this since he made his comeback in the Edgbaston Test against England last year. Since 2020, his figures in Test cricket have been very ordinary. But, would you believe if I am told that Pujara’s average of 29.69 (in 28 matches) is exactly the same as Kohli’s (29.69) in this period, even though Kohli played only 25 matches during that period! But Kohli is the king and how many people can have the courage to question the king’s test form. Leave it to you and us, the selectors do not have the guts, whose main job is to choose the best team for India. Come on, there can be no comparison between Kohli and Pujara and this argument can be accepted, but like Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane also plays only Test cricket and was out of the Test team for the last 15 months. The reason for this was his average of less than 25 in 19 matches before the Oval Test. But, a no ball by Pat Cummins to Rahane at the Oval not only gave life to Rahane in that innings but also breathed a new life into his Test career. Now Rahane is not only the important batsman of the Test team but also the vice-captain. This also means that the selectors and the BCCI are assuming that after the ODI World Cup, if there is a need to think about any other option other than Rohit Sharma in the name of Test captaincy, then they have an option like Rahane. . Because the three players who were being groomed for this role for the last few years are currently unfit. KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant.
Well, when it comes to Rahul, then along with him the figures of young opener Shubman Gill can also be considered, who have not been very successful in comparison to Pujara in the last two years. Gill’s average (32.89 in 16 matches), Rahul’s average (30.28 in 11 matches) shows that over the years Indian batsmen have collectively performed poorly both at home and abroad and each time in some way or the other Due to the runs of the lower-order batsmen, Team India has somehow managed to overcome the crisis on many occasions.
In such a situation, the question arises that why was Pujara made the scapegoat? It is possible that his age (35 years) is coming in his way. Anyway, Pujara has played 103 Tests and India’s next difficult tour will be to South Africa later this year, where Pujara has scored only one century in 19 innings during the last 4 tours. Maybe keeping these things in mind, the selectors have shown confidence in players like Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rituraj Gaikwad.
Well, if this turns out to be the end of Pujara’s Test career, then he should be proud of his journey. In the coming times, there will be very few players who will play 100 matches for India in red ball, the truth is that even a stalwart like Rohit Sharma may not be a part of the 100 Test club, but the way Pujara did with his bat in Australia. Showed Asadharam game, it can never be forgotten easily. You may not see the glamor of Rohit-Kohli in Pujara or the thrilling stroke-play of Rahane but as an ultimate team man, Pujara was second to none in the last decade who has on most occasions ranked his team at number 1 or 2 played an important role in staying.
FIRST PUBLISHED : June 24, 2023, 09:18 IST