Mohinder Amarnath calls for Cheteshwar Pujara’s inclusion for Lord’s Test

Former India allrounder Mohinder Amarnath feels Cheteshwar Pujara‘s inclusion in India’s Playing XI for the second Test at Lord’s against England could prove beneficial for the team. Pujara was omitted from the team for the first Test at Edgbaston with KL Rahul replacing him at No.3, a move that didn’t quite pay off since the batsman managed 4 and 13 in both innings.

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Amarnath, writing for the Times of India, believes that Pujara’s penchant of playing long innings can help see off the initial swing which can further give the other batsmen time to settle well while batting. India lost the opening Test by 31 runs after failing to chase down a target of 194 in the fourth innings.

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“The team selection needs to be looked into. When batsmen are struggling with the moving ball, it might be a good idea to induct Cheteshwar Pujara into the side. I know he is not in great form, but he has the ability to occupy the crease and just needs time in the middle to rediscover his touch,” Amarnath pointed out.

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“As India get ready for the second of the five-Test series against England, they will be aware that they could have been 1-0 up rather than 0-1 down. It was a close match and India would be disappointed at not finishing the job. However, they also need to take heart from what they did right, and remedy the areas in which they fell short.

Amarnath, Man of the Match in India’s 1983 World Cup final triumph also favoured Ravindra Jadeja as Hardik Pandya‘s replacement for the second Test. Pandya, following his knock of 93 in Cape Town earlier this year, has managed just four double-digit scores, with a highest of 71 against Afghanistan.

According to Amarnath, Jadeja also fits in ahead of Kuldeep Yadav as the second spinner in the side and his partnership with R Ashwin could be a vital element for India’s chances on a surface that is said to be conducive to spin bowling.

“It might also be a good idea to play Ravindra Jadeja instead of Hardik Pandya. Jadeja’s spin might be a good foil for the pace trio and Ashwin, and he might also contribute with the bat. It is unfortunate that Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was so good on the last tour, is injured but Jadeja might give the team balance,” Amarnath reckoned.

The biggest concern, however, remains the lack of depth in Indian batting. Except Virat Kohli, no other batsman seems confident of finding his feet in the middle. This remains a glaring concern, and Amarnath suggests that the batsmen need to approach the testing English conditions differently.

“The batting was a reflection of the fact that the top-order needs to really work on their technique, and quickly. Some of the shortcomings I could pick out were that they were too loose, lacked balance and had too much bat speed on their shots. Other than perhaps in London – which is facing an unusually hot summer – the Indian batsmen will have to negotiate the moving ball and they simply need to be tighter, and exhibit more balance at the crease,” Amarnath added.

“They also can’t rely on bat speed and go hard at the ball like they do in the subcontinent. They need to play with soft hands, and also play and score more runs on the backfoot. The number of catches offered to the slips suggests lack of balance, too many strokes on the front foot, and quite simply too many loose shots.

“The Indians need to take a leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book and tighten up their game. He was simply exceptional at Edgbaston, and hopefully he will continue the form and also inspire other batsmen.”

The second of the five Tests between India and England begins Thursday.