Home > Features >

India squad for Bangladesh: Cheteshwar Pujara gets opportunity to make his presence felt

Chetshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara has been included in the Indian squad to tour Bangladesh © PTI

With Cheteshwar Pujara’s inclusion, the selectors have probably sent out the message that they want to keep him under the radar in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a decision that probably means more than it meets the eye.

Exactly why The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) organised a trip to Bangladesh in June (when a rain is always on the cards) will perhaps remain elusive. The makeshift series crammed between a long winter (tours of South Africa and New Zealand, Asia Cup, ICC World T20 2014, followed by the Indian Premier League) does not really serve any purpose, especially towards the upcoming tour of England.

The good aspect of the tour is that the six big guns — MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja — have earned a well-deserved rest; the selectors have decided to send what can safely be called an India A side — in what seems to be an encore of the Zimbabwe tour of 2013.

Given that he was not rested, Suresh Raina was the obvious choice as the leader, and men like Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny, Vinay Kumar, and Mohit Sharma have got yet another chance to establish themselves. One can only hope that Manoj Tiwary will go through the tournament without picking up another injury, and this might be an opportunity that will make Wriddhiman Saha’s career.

Parvez Rasool may finally make his international debut, and the Indian Premier League (IPL) has pushed men like Kedar Jadhav and Akshar Patel into the forefront, and most importantly, this may be the series that may re-establish Robin Uthappa on the big stage.

Which brings us back to Pujara — the man with arguably the best technique among contemporary Indian batsmen.

Pujara was a part of the Asia Cup squad, but never got to play a single match — even after India were officially eliminated. The message was clear: the selection committee did not look at Pujara as a part of the long-term plan for the ODIs, especially for World Cup 2015.

If that had been the case, it did not make any sense to pick him again. He could easily have been dropped the way Ishwar Pandey (the other man who was in the squad and did not get to play a match, and is yet to make his international debut) has been left out. Not many people would have complained if an IPL power-hitter was selected ahead of Pujara.

Contrary to popular beliefs, Pujara is an astonishingly fast scorer; gifted with the rare ability to dominate short-pitched bowling, Pujara can accelerate at any level, and with 55.03, has the best List A batting average after Michael Bevan. The potential is there, and so are the numbers: is he really among a probable for the World Cup?

Let us, for once, assume that the batsmen rested for the series (Dhoni, Kohli, Dhawan, Rohit, and Jadeja) are definite picks. Dhoni and Jadeja have a second attribute to their names, but the other three will have to qualify based on their batting skills alone. Kohli auto-selects himself, but the same cannot be said for the others.

With Raina’s weakness against bounce (something the fast bowlers from across the world will only be too happy to dish out) an established fact by now India will have to look at more options (even if Rohit is, by some mysterious logic, considered a must-selection).

How have the others performed in recent past? Let us take two years’ worth of data against Australia, England, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and West Indies outside Asia. Let us leave out Kohli (584 runs at 48.7, strike rate 98.5, two hundreds) and Dhoni (344 runs at 57.33, strike rate 89.1).

Player M R Ave SR 100
Rohit Sharma 14 474 36.46 67.1
Shikhar Dhawan 13 465 38.75 82.3 1
Ravindra Jadeja 14 249 41.5 103
Suresh Raina 12 215 26.87 93.9
Dinesh Karthik 9 154 25.67 64.4
Ambati Rayudu 2 57 28.5 58.2
Murali Vijay 3 57 28.5 89.1
Ajinkya Rahane 5 51 10.2 58.6

The surprise entry has certainly been that of Jadeja’s. Even without his twin innings (both of which were unbeaten) in New Zealand, Jadeja had played a crucial 25-ball unbeaten 33 that had sealed Champions Trophy 2013 for India; against Sri Lanka at Sabina Park, too, Jadeja he had top-scored with an unbeaten 49.

What about the others? Dhawan’s performances have been impressive, and Rohit just about makes the cut. With the World Cup being held in conditions Indians are not comfortable against, Pujara’s case is made.

One can only hope he is given a proper run, unlike in the Asia Cup.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014 (18:30 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (00:00 IST)   at Basseterre, St Kitts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

More

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014  at St George's, Grenada

West Indies won by 3 wkts

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Photos

England Women vs India Women 2014, 1st ODI at Scarborough

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

India still in a position to succeed against England in ODIs

13 things you may not know about Ravi Shastri

Duncan Fletcher speaks out; explains why Team India failed in the Test series against England!

Science of slip fielding: What might be wrong with Team India’s slip cordon

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Ravi Shastri Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe

India team manager was unhappy with Anushka Sharma accompanying Virat Kohli

Vernon Philander, Beuran Hendricks ruled out of South Africa’s tri-series campaign

Pakistan Super League launch date uncertain following unsatisfactory bids

Saeed Ajmal to miss first two Sri Lanka-Pakistan ODIs to undergo test on bowling action

Sachin Tendulkar pays tributes to yoga guru Iyengar

India tour of England 2014: Visitor’s recent record in overseas ODIs a cause for concern

India tour of England 2014: Duncan Fletcher’s see-saw coaching career could be at its end

India tour of England 2014: Is county cricket really the answer for Indian batsmen?

India vs England 2014: Ideal opportunity for Sanju Samson and other youngsters to shine

Statistical review of West Indies’ top order struggles in ODIs

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

660 Posts | 6 Fans

Funny Cricket Wonders and Blunders

Fairness Cream Ads: New guidelines make it illegal to call dark-skinned people inferior!

How much money has the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised till now?

Xiaomi Redmi 1S, priced at Rs 6,999, pre-registration could go live in India tomorrow

India tour of England 2014: Duncan Fletcher’s see-saw coaching career could be at its end

Ice Bucket Challenge: Watch Cook, Gates, Zuckerberg and others douse themselves with ice water to raise ALS awareness

Abhishek Bachchan’s Jaipur Pink Panthers watch Ajay Devgn-Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer Singham Returns!

Haider making video: Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Vishal Bharadwaj have freaky fun in freezing cold!

Vernon Philander, Beuran Hendricks ruled out of South Africa’s tri-series campaign

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here