Cheteshwar Pujara’s biggest test will come when India play overseas © PTI
The most heartening sight about the ongoing Hyderabad Test match between India and Australia has been the crowds. The fact that over 28,000 on Sunday and close to 18,000 on Monday came to watch the Test is good news for Test cricket in India. There had been intense speculation about interest in this format since the batting greats like Sourav Ganguly Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman left the scene. It was heartening to see people show up to watch Cheteshwar Pujara bat in the stadium.
Talking of Pujara, l have to confess I’m awestruck by the way he goes about his batting. I had written about his unhurried approach, playing the ball on merit regardless of match situation, etc. He added another feather to his cap with his fortitude on Sunday to bat through injury. Even though only 49 runs were scored in the morning session on Sunday I wasn’t bored. Unlike Dravid grinding bowlers down by playing no shots, Pujara’s batting has a good tempo to it. This is not to suggest that Dravid was a lesser batsman; just comparing their effect on my senses.
Pujara’s big test will obviously come abroad. If he can come close to changing the courses of test matches the way Dravid did in that period from 2003 to 2006, then he is it. He has already done enough at home. India are one batsman away from being able to take the fight to the bowlers overseas in my opinion.
Virender Sehwag may well have played his last Test for India as an opener. He did get a good ball, but openers are supposed to deal with those. If it does go, it will be a sad ending to an electrifying career.
Ajinkya Rahane must get a game now. Vijay has bought himself more time. If he follows up this one with another good one in the next couple of Test matches, he would well and surely have arrived. But I wasn’t mightily impressed with the way he batted. He was effective, but could not impose himself at any time on the bowlers.
Mumbai Indians will be pleased with their purchase of Glenn Maxwell. I thought despite his poor start and occasional lack of control (possibly due to inexperience in Indian conditions), he bowled smartly. Switching to round the wicket was a good tactic, though the lack of rough would have normally suggested it to be a poor choice. He isn’t as good as Nathan Lyon, but I thought he has that Greg Matthews kind of feel to him.
This match is pretty much in India’s bag. Besides Michael Clarke, someone from the Australian batting line-up must step up to make a statement. Like Laxman’s 167 in the doomed Sydney Test years ago.
David Warner has been a huge letdown. One was hoping for some feisty batting from him. Phil Hughes is clueless against spin. And there are no batsmen to follow Clarke. Moises Henriques, Mathew Wade and Maxwell can chip in, but not own the batting except on the odd good day. And Shane Watson hasn’t shown us yet that he cares enough to grind, grunt and grit out tough sessions of play.
(Vidooshak is a blogger @ Opinions on Cricket . He was drawn into cricket by Golandaaz as a schoolboy. His bluster overshadows his cricketing ability. He played as a wicket-keeper in a college team but was promptly dropped. The college selection committee had slightly higher standards than Pakistani selectors. He did reasonably well in tennis ball cricket until he was benched for a final game by the team that he captained. To say some of it was due to his opinions would be an understatement of sorts. Regardless, Vidooshak finds time to opinionate relentlessly and lives a vicarious life by watching cricket teams make obvious mistakes. Good news for Vidooshak is that someone always loses a cricket game, someone always gets belted and someone always flops. Vidooshak always looks for an alternative explanation and rarely agrees with mainstream consensus. Needless to say he has no friends, only ‘tolerators’! While not throwing his weight around, Vidooshak does not run marathons or draw pictures, but reads voraciously on all topics, volunteers at local failing schools, is an avid but average golfer and runs an Indian association in mid-west America)