“When I hit the ball, I don’t look at the scorecard. I only look at it at the end of the game or after a disability,” Cheteshwar Pujara said in the months after he hit 521 times for three centuries in a row in Australia in 2018-19 Seven innings during the tournament.
Since scoring those three hundred, Pukhara has averaged only 27.60 points in 20 test matches. The big market has dried up. He is nine and fifty years old, but among them are his heroic deeds in the fourth game in Sydney and Brisbane earlier this year. One might argue that Pujara played his role perfectly by dulling the new ball and ensuring that the opponent’s bowler throws as many balls as possible. It was exhibited in the last Border-Gavaskar series. In total, he faced 928 balls, close to a quarter of the number of balls faced by India, which frustrated Australian bowlers. Pujara participated in all test matches that India participated in the first two-year WTC cycle (between August 22, 2019 and June 18, 2021) and faced 2,356 balls in 30 innings.
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However, so far in 2021, Pujara has only ran 434 times, close to 29 times. He played 33 rounds without Test Century. In the WTC final against New Zealand, he was eliminated with 8 and 15 points. The team management and Pujara may have acknowledged that there is a problem and recognize that a remedy is needed. Pujara showed a certain degree of urgency. In India’s pursuit of Trent Bridge, the four-point shot rate reached 12 of 13 goals, which was finally interrupted by uninterrupted showers on the last day. In other words, in the game against James Anderson, Pukhara has already failed. He let him out twice in this series, and his ability to block once again caused dissatisfaction. So, is he a less efficient player now? This is a two-stage answer.
In Australia, Pujara’s ability to respond to adversity is praised; his clumsy methods are praised. However, seven months later, when Pujara scored 45 goals out of 206 goals on the fourth day of Lord’s Test-India scored 3 goals out of 55 goals-and took 35 goals to reach the goal, He had to hear how he needed to keep the scorecard ticking. This is not even the longest time he has opened an account: in Johannesburg in 2018, he faced 53 goals before scoring for the first time.
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Pujara’s overall test data (88 races, 6337 runs, 45.58 averages, 18 100s, 29 50s) can remind us of how much Pujara contributed when it ranked third. The current period of high-production running points may be wrong, but discussions about his overall impact should not only consider cold statistics. There is no doubt that Pujara has played a role in enhancing India’s image as a testing power, and this value cannot be easily measured even by looking at indicators such as scores, hundreds of improvements, and the number of tests won overseas. Consider Gabba 2021. During his 56 (211) years, he suffered several blows and thwarted the Australian offensive, eventually allowing Rishabh Pant to give in to the sealer in the Brisbane Blitz.
Pujara has a personality to avoid risks. He would go out to the spinning mill, but only when he thought he could drive along the ground. Once set, he tends to score quickly because he has a measure of the court and can find gaps more frequently. The problem now is that, in addition to occasional cuts and flicks, Pujara of England has been trying to turn the world into scoring opportunities, finding more outfielders than open positions.
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Pujara is no stranger to criticism, which helps him to be focused and strong as a batsman. Before the start of the 2018 England Series, Puhala played briefly in Yorkshire, where he played alongside Joe Rutter, Jonny Bairstow and Adam Leith. In a game against Essex, Yorkshire was eliminated with 50 points. Three months later, he was eliminated in Edgbaston’s first test. “It’s not that I’m not in good form, because I hit some good shots for Yorkshire,” he said. Pujara’s game has always been built around not playing well-but he keeps getting unplayable passes. Mark Wood passed the ball to him with the help of variable bounce in the second game at Rod Stadium. It was just such a ball. Or he was fired in the first inning in Sydney earlier this year when Pat Cummins asked him to catch him with the back of a long, obviously bouncing ball.
So why should we celebrate Pujara? First of all, Pujara deserves all the praise. He deserves it because of his indulgence and elegant restraint, insisting not only to survive but also to flourish. In this test team, no one can do better than him; partly because few can do it. In the T20, T10 and now The Million era, there are many exciting ways to play cricket. But again, we are lucky that at least one other player who looks like Pujara-a picture of a samurai monk-also meets the standard.
Maybe once he hung up his boots, Indian cricket would take time to think about it.