Former Indian cricketers Pragyan Ojha and Deep Dasgupta questioned the slow approach of veteran Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease, saying he being an experienced batsman should have shown more intent and taken control on Day 3 of the ongoing Sydney Test against Australia.
On the last 2018-19 tour, Pujara batted 1258 balls, 30 hours, and scored 521 runs to inspire India to a historic series 2-1 win against Australia. But this time, the right-hander is struggling to score runs, though, he managed to halt the fall of wickets, but India needs some big scores for the veteran.
On Day 3 of the ongoing third Test, Pujara managed to score his slowest fifty in Test cricket, taking 174 balls to get to the landmark before being dismissed by Pat after his poor outing in the first 2 Tests.
The batting collapse saw India losing last 6 wickets for 49 runs to end the first innings on 244, handing Australia a healthy first-innings lead of 94 runs in the ongoing Sydney Test of the four-Test series on Saturday.
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Reacting to the same, Ojha said Pujara being a senior batsman should have shown more intent, though, he admitted the middle-order batsman is the one who helped India to win Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia last time but said he can’t bat with such pace, as it deters team’s chances.
Ojha told Sports Today: “The way Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill were playing on Day 2, 70 for no loss. I think, in that evening session, it became so slow and we lost the momentum. After that today, Australians came with a very good plan. They were looking to make us uncomfortable mentally with those bouncers. They were able to do that successfully.”
The former spinner further added, “Cheteshwar Pujara, being the most senior member of the side, it’s important, he shows that intent. He was the one who inspired us to win the 2018 series. But now, everybody is questioning his intent. You can’t bat so slow, cricket has changed.
You’re playing a Test match; people are batting at a certain strike rate. That’s what you have to maintain. YOu have to maintain that pace; you can’t go below that pace. If you do that, your team will face consequences. That’s what India had to go through sadly.”
Meanwhile, former wicketkeeper-batsman Dasgupta said India’s senior-most batsmen lacked game awareness as Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added just 32 runs in their stand that lasted 22.4 overs before the stand-in captain was dismissed for 22 from 70 balls by Cummins.
Dasgupta said: “It was Pujara, Hanuma, and Ajinkya. In 35 overs, they got 57 runs. Once the Kookaburra ball is old, you have to capitalize on it, knowing very well that the second new ball is coming. You can’t be just playing out (time) there. That’s what is disappointing.”
He signed off by saying, “All I am saying is, there needs to be a little more game awareness, understanding where the game will flow in the coming session or two. That’s where I was a little disappointed. Yes, we all know Pujara plays the way he does but someone as experienced as him and along with that someone like Ajinkya, you would expect them to be a little more aware of where the game stood after that first 30 minutes on Day 3.”
(With India Today Inputs)