Could Cheteshwar Pujara be the answer to India’s ODI woes abroad?

Let us ask ourselves this question: why is Cheteshwar Pujara important in the Indian ODI squad when it tours abroad? The Indian team which has many stroke makers in the eleven, at times, doesn’t justify the way they play on foreign soil. Honestly speaking the team’s batting style doesn’t suit them when they play on bouncy and swinging tracks, which makes our batting weak. That is where we need a solid compact batsman in the middle order, one who can not only tackle the bounce and swing, but also play the perfect role of a grafter so that the other batsmen can play their natural game.

That batsman now in team India is Pujara. not only does he have the technique but also the capability to lend solidity to the middle order. The reason I am talking about Pujara is that he is a player who will get you enough boundaries and doesn’t get bogged down by the task of holding the wicket, which makes him a compact and reliable player.

Now that team India is touring New Zealand, where it would be very windy, and negating the swing would be a big challenge in those conditions, Cheteshwar Pujara would have been an ideal player in the midst of our stroke makers. Especially when an opening wicket falls in the initial overs, Pujara could have slowly but solidly do his job. As both our openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar  Dhawan are yet to be a proven success in swinging conditions, Pujara would have been an ideal foil, followed by Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.

I think the selectors may have got it wrong in not taking Cheteshwar Pujara on such an important tour. Everybody knows how fragile the Indian batting can be in those conditions.

When you play in such conditions you need to adapt the older way of playing One Day Internationals, where even if you get 50 in the first 10 to 15 overs without loosing too many wickets, it is a good start and then you build on the start. with the New Zealand boundaries not too big, you can get 100 runs of the last 10 overs without much difficulty with the Indian batting.

That is precisely the role Rahul Dravid used to don and often held up one end till the slog overs. Even if Pujara gets 70 to 80 runs off 100 balls, it’s quite good considering the conditions. Now the question is, who is going to play the role of carrying the team without much fuss even if wickets fall? In my view that player would be very important and will be missed dearly when early wickets fall.

Daniel Manohar [Daniel Manohar is a Sports Analyst with the Cricket Galaxy. In the past he has opened the batting for the Hyderabad team in Ranji Trohphy – India’s Domestic First Class Championship. He tweets here]

6 thoughts on “Could Cheteshwar Pujara be the answer to India’s ODI woes abroad?

  1. Nice one Daniel…Indian cricket keeps repeating itself with such alarming fashion..we seldom learn from our mistakes…Pujara’s case has startling similarity to Dravid..Remember Dravid was labelled a ‘Test Specialst’ for the good part of his starting years. I just hope Pujara gets the nod and shines in the next world cup which I am sure he will just like Dravid did in the 1999 world cup. One interesting similarity, it was in New Zealand where Dravid was finally considered to be a ODI batsman..hope the same holds true for Pujara

  2. Anonymous, i think ODIs have changed nature in recent years. They have become even more high-scoring. Didn’t Corey Anderson just hit a whirlwind 100 in these same so-called difficult conditions? I am not sure someone reaching 80 in 100 balls is a great thing now whatever the conditions be. However, I agree that Pujara should be chosen because he can change gears and attack when required. He can do this much better than Dravid.

  3. Good one Daniel . No one can explain these intricacies of the game other than someone who played the game himself . Well presented !!

    Anonymous / Rajkamal :
    I think there is little doubt as to whether Pujara can play “positively”. It is evident from SAF tour that he can shift gears if needed . I believe BCCI / team management wants to protect him from fancies of limited over cricket and keep his batting “sanity” alive by restricting him to Test cricket . Also , I sense a cautionary motive in BCCI mind to avoid his burn out , as they see Pujara very valuable for Indian test cricket .

    Selectors would want to wait and see how this team performs under the trying condition in NZ .If they succeed ,Pujara will be limited to test cricket until Aussie tour till this year end .
    If they fail , then Pujara will play ODI s.

  4. I think at one point Rahul Dravid’s value addition was wicket keeping, he gave so much flexibility to Saurav in picking his team.. Pujara seems a complete test player and as Lalitha mentioned the selectors probably want to save him unless its completely necessary. I think the Indian batsmen are adept to handle NZ bowlers. NZ batting anyway is susceptible to top order collapse against quality swing bowling, so Indian bowlers need to watch out for tailenders :).

  5. Well said Lalitha….. To have an expert like Daniel pen down his views, definitely is the best way to identify and find the real issues….

    Great points Daniel. India really messed things up in South Africa….. There really is a good case for Pujara to be in the team…. This new Zealand tour will be fun

  6. Dravid felt Cheteshwar Pujara could hold India’s batting together in overseas ODIs, urging the selectors to give him a chance considering the 2015 World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand

    “Pujara’s got the skils and ability to cope with and play in the ODIs. I won’t want to write him off as an ODI player, especially with the World Cup coming up in Australia. I would encourage the selectors to give him some opportunities, because his record in domestic cricket is phenomenal,” the Karanataka man said.

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