Dale Steyn Explains Why Cheteshwar Pujara Is Struggling: India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara and his form have come under the scanner of critics after the Indian cricket team lost the maiden World Test Championship’s final at the hands of New Zealand.
Cheteshwar Pujara is known for his incredible patience and ability to play long innings, which have bailed the team out of trouble on various occasions. Cheteshwar Pujara has everything a classic Test batsman needs. This is the reason he is often hailed as the ‘modern Wall’ of the game. However, Pujara failed to give the best of his abilities on the just concluded WTC Final.
Pujara scored only 8 runs off 54 balls he faced in the first innings and 15 off 80 balls in the second innings, where team India failed to put up a competitive target. Pujara, who had a stellar tour to Australia Down Under earlier this year, has been struggling with his form since then. If his knock of 73 runs in Chennai against England is excluded, Pujara hasn’t scored a fifty in the last 7 innings.
After India lost the match, in interaction with ESPNCricinfo, Dale Steyn talked about who bowled to Pujara during team India’s tour of South Africa in 2013, talked about the performance of Cheteshwar. Steyn feels that for some reason Pujara has cut down on playing shots off his backfoot. He confessed that he wouldn’t have expected a batsman of Pujara’s caliber to get dismissed in such a manner. He said:
“Out of my memory, I just remember Pujara playing great off his legs. Very, very good off his legs, and eyes underneath the ball. But I do remember him playing some magical cut shots and backfoot drives. Maybe on pitches that a little bit quicker – and Indian wickets are not quick – he played some beautiful balls underneath his eyes through the cover. It’s a part of the game that I feel he has lost,”
“That shot today that he played, if he was in a better position, a couple of years maybe, he would have gotten more on the backfoot and punched it through the covers, whereas he just stood there half and half on his front foot. Overall a very soft dismissal – running it down to first slip is a very peculiar way of getting out for a top batter.”
Further, Dale Steyn claimed that Pujara needs to be more proactive as the bowlers in Test cricket will always find a way of sending him back to the pavilion. He also pointed out some technical mistakes in Pujara’s form. He said:
“That’s the thing I have seen lacking in Pujara. I’m so used to him rocking onto his backfoot and playing with his hands and good feet movement. He’s kind of lost that part of his game. And if you’re only hanging on the front foot, good bowlers will not bowl half-volleys to you. And you’ve got to turn good balls into good shots. That’s the difference between Test cricket and First-Class cricket. He’s missing out on a lot of runs there,”