Too much blocking not helping Pujara: Mohinder Amarnath
Cheteshwar Pujara's overdefensive approach is turning against him, feels Mohinder Amarnath (Getty Images)

Former India cricketer Mohinder Amarnath has questioned Cheteshwar Pujara’s excessive defensive approach while batting. Appreciating Pujara’s technique, Amarnath pointed out that the Saurashtra batsman tends to go into a shell by blocking way too many deliveries which eventually allows bowlers to mentally get on top of him.

“The pre-determined movement to the front foot and the inability to play with soft hands are conspiring to create a situation where the batsmen are prodding at the ball. The other problem is excessive defence,” Amarnath wrote in his column for the Times of India.

“Cheteshwar Pujara, for instance, has sound technique which helps him occupy the crease for long. However, he tends to stop scoring and if a wicket falls at the other end, the scoreboard looks dismal, putting further pressure on the incoming batsman. A reluctance to rotate strike among the batsmen yields advantage to the bowlers.”

Amarnath, Man of the Match in India’s World Cup triumph at Lord’s in 1983, feels it won’t be a bad idea if the underperforming Indian batsmen picked up a thing or two from Virat Kohli. While the entire batting order has come under scrutiny for their collective failures in the Test series, the Indian captain has been on a different note, scoring 250 runs in four innings, including a century and a half century. Barring Kohli, no other batsman has managed to even surpass the 50-run mark.

“Our batsmen would do well to study how Virat Kohli is playing, with shots off the backfoot. He has tweaked his game so that he can deal with the moving ball,” Amarnath, who played 69 Tests and 85 ODIs for India across a span of 30 years, said.

“The rest, too, do not have to curb their style – they simply need to make adjustments in their footwork to ensure they are compact at the crease. They also need to realise that they need to keep the scoreboard moving since runs are critical even in such conditions.”

As India try to regroup in the Test series, the attention turns to Trent Bridge, where the third Test between India and England starts on Saturday. Among the various questions India face, one remains the opening muddle. Shikhar Dhawan, who has 39 runs from two innings was left out for the second Test, whereas Murali Vijay (he bagged a pair at Lord’s) and KL Rahul have 35 and 26 runs from four innings each. While it may be touch and go, Murali Vijay seems likely to make way for Dhawan solely based on confidence.

“Maybe leaving out Shikhar Dhawan was not a good idea, as he has not done much worse than the others. Also, it might be good to play Ajinkya Rahane at number three. The third Test is crucial and India need to find the ability to stem the rot,” Amarnath said.