India lost the series against South Africa 0-2 due to their spineless batting. All the talks were on India taking 20 wickets in South Africa. The bowlers delivered, taking 20 wickets twice in the series so far despite the selection dilemmas. It’s the batting that has failed India big time. India’s openers were expected to fail as it’s difficult to survive against the new ball on conditions that aid pace bowling.
All the eyes were on India’s new ‘Wall’ – Cheteshwar Pujara to bail India out of trouble every time. But the Wall was breached four times on four occasions. The last two occasions the wall razed itself thanks to its own wrong doings.
So, what is hurting Cheteshwar Pujara to deliver for team India?
He was expected to grind out the bowling attack and score runs when the bowlers are tired and the pitch lack venom. But Pujara has been on the crease for just 153 balls in 4 innings. And to think of him holding a Indian record of playing the most deliveries in a Test innings.
In the first innings in Centurion, Pujara looked in a hurry to get off the mark of the first ball and got himself run-out for a golden duck. In the second innings, he ran himself out again going for a third run.
Is Pujara looking to show more intent and positivity than stay at the crease for long and play the role of accumulator for his team?
Is his thought process muddled with Kohli’s constant harp on ‘intent’? Is this strategy hurting Pujara’s natural game?
It looks a likely scenario considering how Pujara has tried to bat himself out of trouble in the Centurion Test. His role was to drop anchor and hold one end up. But Pujara has failed to so.
That has exposed the middle-order too soon and given South African the licence to go for the kill and it has paid off for them.
Pujara was once criticised for being too slow and his strike rate was questioned. But the then coach Anil Kumble came to his defence, stating ‘strike rate’ is not an issue in Test cricket. Kumble’s defending Pujara had then given him loads of confidence to first stay at the wicket and then score runs when the conditions are favourable. Not everyone can bat like Kohli who can score at a brisk pace while minimizing the risks. Pujara’s game plan is to be simple, take time to settle down and score runs later.
After the loss in Cape Town Test, Captain Kohli has urged batsmen to show more intent. And that has probably muddled Pujara’s thoughts as he has looked to score runs at quick pace only to lose his wicket via run-outs in both the innings.
Now, with the series gone, India can best hope for a draw in the third Test and the new ‘Wall of India’ needs to rise to block every arsenal thrown at the Indian team. If Pujara performs, it increases India’s chances of salvaging some pride in the series.