Cheteshwar Pujara will want to give a fitting reply to his critics ©Getty Images
Cheteshwar Pujara will want to give a fitting reply to his critics ©Getty Images

After failing in the Indian Board President’s XI match against the visiting South Africans, Cheteshwar Pujara’s position in the first Test against South Africa in the Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015 look bleak.. Pujara, who was labelled as the next Rahul Dravid of Indian cricket, is struggling to even stay in the playing XI. As soon as Virat Kohli became Indian Test captain the message was clear and loud that Indian team wants players who are aggressive and bold in nature, and Pujara, who is just the opposite of it felt a bit unshelled. Pujara, who did not have very good tours of New Zealand, England and Australia, is now reinventing himself to play the aggressive brand of cricket. In his last Test, Pujara  made a magnificent 145 against Sri Lanka in a winning cause for the team, coming in as a replacement after injury to Murali Vijay.

Kohli has already made it clear that once Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan are back from injuries they will reclaim their respective places in the team.  Pujara  was reportedly polishing his bowling skills as well just to add more to his skill set, faces even tougher competition. Pujara needs to concentrate more on his batting skills as he is renowned for his long and technically correct innings. KL Rahul is also a prime contender for the No. 3 slot in Tests after making good impression so far.  Rahul also made his claim stronger after scoring 72 against South Africans for Indian Board President’s XI . Pujara, who had a wonderful 2012-2013 season, scoring five Test centuries at an average of 75 may be facing troubles today but it can be asserted that he has a long way to go in international cricket. ALSO READ: Murali Vijay: Ready for Dale Steyn and co in Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015

As the year 2013 came to an end his form dipped and how making just 903 in 13 matches. The tours of England, New Zealand and Australia saw Pujara being labelled a home track bully, not able to make the same impression overseas. The upcoming Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015 against South Africa could be a career defining series for Pujara, notwithstanding his chances of playing in Test which does not look good.

Pujara recently commented,”As I have batted at No.  3, I have got the experience of facing the new ball. So, technically I don’t have to do much adjustment to my batting as an opener.”With showing such kind of flexibility in his batting position will Pujara be a team favourite or still is just warming the bench? ALSO READ: India vs South Africa 2015: KL Rahul says Dale Steyn will be different come the Tests

For a player who has tremendous talent and selective ability for batting in top of the order, Pujara will certainly have to change his style of play. How far he will be able to succeed in his bid, only time will tell.

 

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime as refreshment for the soul and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @vishal_oxyjinn)