Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara has already done enough to prove that he is a man for the long run in Indian cricket by displaying tremendous class and temperament while playing quality attacks © PTI

Even after three ODIs in the series against Zimbabwe, players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Parvez Rasool don’t find a place in the playing XI. Aayush Puthran questions the logic in selection.

Undoubtedly the biggest positive India have from a tour of Zimbabwe is the chance to expose the bench strength to international cricket. Yes, sigh, it is Zimbabwe!
If this was indeed looked upon as an opportunity to give a fresh bunch some good exposure, it is an opportunity that seems almost lost. The fact that Cheteshwar Pujara, Parvez Rasool, Ajinkya Rahane and Mohit Sharma haven’t been tried out even after three out of five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) would pose some serious questions on the logic in selection for the series.
Pujara’s selection in the Indian team for the tour came in for great praise from various quarters as the Saurashtra lad has shown tremendous promise. He has already done enough to prove that he is a man for the long run in Indian cricket. Displaying tremendous class and temperament while playing quality attacks, he has showed maturity beyond his age. There is little doubt regarding his caliber in facing international attacks. However, he is yet to be tested in foreign conditions and the Zimbabwe tour does offer a fine chance for the Indian selectors to use his ability.
If the preparations for the 2015 World Cup have already started, it would not help in any case having a bench-strength that has all the talent, but is yet to be exposed to international cricket. The decision to play Raina, a regular in the ODIs — and a senior pro in terms of experience — ahead of testing other fresh players like Pujara is baffling to say the least.
Another surprising decision is of playing Ravindra Jadeja, when a talented all-rounder in the form of Rasool is warming the bench. Jadeja is playing cricket throughout the year and across formats, including the Indian Premier League (IPL). An all-rounder possessing the kind of talent that he does is a must-have in the team. Thus, it is imperative that he is given adequate rest in series like the one India is currently playing.
Given Indian cricket’s history, opportunities are rare and often inadequate. Once the team returns to full-strength, Rasool might not even find a chance to figure in the squad, leave alone play for India. He has impressed with the ball in the limited opportunities he has got against international line-ups during the IPL and while playing for India A against Australia. The Jammu and Kashmir player is also a decent batsman and can be a useful player in limited-overs cricket with his multiple skills.
Mohit Sharma and Rahane’s exclusion can be understood as they too are battling for places with players who need more international exposure. However, it is critical that both of them get enough matches on the tour as opportunities would be far and, as it looks now, few in the future.
Amidst all the positively bold selections made in the recent future, this is a clear glitch and the selectors wouldn’t want to miss out on creating a larger pool of players to select from when the next World Cup comes.
Apart from Kohli, Pujara is the only other player who has marked himself as India’s dependable batsman for the future. He certainly deserves his chance in the 50-over format.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)