India have a busy home season with as many as 13 tests scheduled, starting with the New Zealand series on 22nd November. India has more or less a settled batting line-up but there has been doubt cast over number three specialist Cheteshwar Pujara who had had a rather lean patch considering his potential.
Pujara tends to take his time at the crease and likes to build an innings – slowly. On one hand that approach is good, especially when one of the openers goes early as his slow batting style helps to take the shine of the new ball and not expose Captain Kohli too early. The other side to that approach is that Pujara often fails to rotate the strike, slows down the scoring rate and finds it hard to increase the pace. This has caused Kohli a few concerns in the past as we saw him promote himself to the number three position and also drop Pujara in favor of Rohit Sharma who is more attacking batsman.
Sharma has not performed better than Pujara and there is a strong possibility that Pujara will play in the first test against the Kiwis, especially after coach Anil Kumble backed the struggling number three batsman.
In a statement, Kumble said “Pujara is a very important cog in our wheel and when he plays at No. 3, he is a very important player. Yes, there are times when he misses out and Rohit comes in. That’s when we probably feel we need someone lower down to accelerate. That’s why in one of the Tests in West Indies, he missed out. I certainly believe he is a very important player for us and he will play at No. 3, and for us to be successful, he is important to us in the short term and long term as well.”
Should Pujara play the first test against the Kiwis, he will once again feel the pressure as he knows he has to perform well in order to retain his place in the side. Kumble acknowledged that the Pujara’s head was on the chopping block and it wasn’t a good thing for him. There have also been suggestions floating around that S Dhawan and M Vijay will continue to open the innings and K Rahul who did really well as an opening in the West Indies, could take the number three spot.