As Indian Team Falters Yet Again, Their Best Batsman Is On Indian Shores

Team India’s crisis has worsened ‘“ losing the number 1 slot in the ICC ODI rankings and far worse is going down 2-0 to an upbeat New Zealand squad that troubled the Indian batsmen from the word ‘go’.

Team India’s crisis has worsened– losing the number 1 slot in the ICC ODI rankings and far worse is going down 2-0 to an upbeat New Zealand squad that troubled the Indian batsmen from the word ‘go’. Furthermore, the spinners are unable to strike gold and Ishant Sharma continues to give pleasantries away to the Kiwis’ batsmen. Apart from the impressive Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, none of the Indian batsmen are looking in prime form. Rohit Sharma, who was impressive in the year 2013, looks like a pale shadow out of Australia series and so does Shikhar Dhawan. 

The middle order too is a crumbling unit– Suresh Raina whom Dhoni defends usually, has been targeted to take the number 4 slot for the ICC Cricket World Cup next year; surely knows this is his last series or get the boot. Since June 2013, Raina has scored 497 runs at an average of 26.15 that includes a solitary half century against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo. Ajinkya Rahane has just walked in the ODI squad and can do better after that morale boosting Test series in South Africa. Even though Rahane was slotted at fourth in the first 2 ODIs, the plot seems to have failed miserably for Fletcher and Dhoni. So who do they draft in? Can Yuvraj Singh strike back and claim what is his? The Answer is Cheteshwar Pujara.

Former chairman of selectors and opening batsman Krishnamachari Srikkanth in a quote given to MiD DAY, praised Pujara’s performance and called for his inclusion. He said, “Rahul Dravid filled up that role (as an anchor) pretty well. Pujara is now an established Test cricketer, a good option and should be given a chance (in ODIs).”

Former India player Aakash Chopra too sided terms with Srikkanth admitting, “With so many matches to be played outside the sub-continent and with two new balls being operated, someone like Pujara who is technically correct should have a go.” Chopra further adds, “Pujara has a case to be included when we go outside the sub-continent. In the sub-continent, the par scores change radically to much more than 300, the strike rate requirement is over a 100 consistently with ability to his sixes and Pujara might not match up with some of the strokeplayers.”

Aakash Chopra has a point here. Where batsmen like Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane are failing to click, a guy like Cheteshwar Pujara can neatly settle in and score those 3 or 4 runs per over. On overseas pitches, you need someone to settle in pretty well and understand the conditions rather than on a flat Indian pitch where runs are scored as bank notes.

“I do like to play the one-day format. Especially with the 2015 World Cup coming up, I hope I get a chance to play in that team. As a cricketer, everybody dreams to play the World Cup for Team India,” Pujara told Star Sports’ show Star Power in an interview. The Rajkot-born is definitely gearing himself for a spot in the 2015 World Cup and why not. Undoubtedly he is the best batsman around after the likes of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni and with other mainstay batsmen struggling, the selectors need to awaken themselves up!

Senior cricket writer Pradeep Magazine too questioned Pujara’s ‘invisibility’ from the ODI team. He writes, “Regardless of the conditions, it is most unfair to keep your most outstanding batsman out of the team. Why it is being done, only the selectors can explain.” And rightly so, if Dhoni knows which player he wants for the ODI selection, is he blindfolded or building upto the selectors pressure?

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