Cheteshwar Pujara is arguably the next wall of Indian cricket . With a solid technique and the ability to concentrate for hours, Pujara is all set to get his name registered in the cricket books for some good reasons. The most notable aspect of his batting is his ability his ability to convert the starts into big ones, something where he stands ahead of Virat Kohli.
But the million dollar question is over his ability to sustain in the limited overs, and especially the shortest format. World cricket has seen the likes of Amla , who used Test cricket to get an entry in other formats and then playing them in his own way, but importantly with success.
The writer is just concentrating on his place in the Kings 11 Punjab . With a cent percent win record till now, the team is maintaining the reputation of the title contender, perhaps for the first time in the history of the tournament. The team has a batting fire power lead by the Mumbai Indians discard , Glenn Maxwell. Miller has also joined the party when needed . Bailey has not yet got his share of chance . Sehwag’s form remains a problem but dropping him means losing fans and also might cause a split in the team as the onus will then fall on Bailey. Johnson is yet to leave a mark in the tournament and the only reason seems to be the slowness of the pitches.
The most interesting aspect of the playing 11 has been the fact that 2 of their retained players are yet to get a game. Perhaps , the management never expected themselves to be so lucky in the auction. Riding on their luck and mismanagement of other franchises , they have bought the most economical team.
Getting back to Pujara, who though has scored runs but has looked out of his comfort zone. He has been too slow to start and somehow manages to get his strike to run a ball. This has left the likes of Bailey and others to get very few balls. But, this is not Pujara’s fault. This is the way he bats . He starts slowly and looks to settle down first and then looks to capitalize when set. Increasing strike rate in Test cricket is different and doing that in test cricket does not gurantee that in T20s. One needs to be muscular like Gayle to make up a slow start. But T20 is a different ball game altogether. With fielders placed at the boundary most of the time, one needs to play lofted shots, and some innovative and pre mediated shots also helps . Pujara is just not such kind of player , instead is someone who believes in placing the balls and playing ground strokes.Even if he manages to make up for his strike rate to some extent, he will be heavily criticised the day he fails .
IPL involves quality bowlers bowling at you and hammering them even in the death overs cannot be taken for gurantee. Not to go far behind, the T20 final just reflected it. Yuvraj started the same way against Australia but then accelerated in the end with some lusty blows and was praised . But what happened a few days later is history and should not be talked of. His home was pelted with stones and much more. It just shows the lack of intellectual fans in Indian cricket.
If Yuvraj, with all the six hitting ability can fail then Pujara can be expected to face it more than half of the total times. Pujara needs to start aggressively or else the team management should rethink over their strategy . If Bailey is not getting enough balls to face, it is better to replace the captain with Perera as it will strengthen the bowling. Also, Perera is no mark with the bat and can hit some lusty blows.
Pujara is scoring at run a ball which cannot be accepted on any track. The problem will arise the day Maxwell and Miller doesn’t click . The lower middle order will just be under too much of pressure.