Virat Kohli will have a host of issues to deal with when India take on South Africa in the Test series from November 5. Not only will the India Test skipper have to lift the morale of his teammates who lost both the T20I as well as ODI series to the Proteas, but another cause for concern is the scratchy Ranji Trophy form of top order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara.
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Board President's XI skipper Cheteshwar Pujara with coach Aashish Kapoor at the Brabourne Stadium yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Pujara has struggled in the three Ranji Trophy matches he has played for Saurashtra so far, scoring only 64 runs. Today's warm-up tie against South Africa at the Brabourne Stadium is another opportunity for Board President's XI skipper Pujara to make an impression before the first Test in Mohali. "Personally, I am very confident ahead of the Test series.
I won't say I am out of form. I don't think those failures will put me under any pressure. I will not have any problems. I know what I will be facing and with the experience I have, I am confident I will do well (against South Africa)," said Pujara.
Pujara's preparation yesterday showed no signs of a batsman desperate to be among the runs once again. He had a good look at the Brabourne pitch, then went on to face a number of spinners in the nets before finally working on his catching and fitness.
Primarily a No 3 batsman, Pujara opened the innings in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka (the only Test he played in that series) and scored a match-winning 145 in the first innings to help India win the series 2-1. However, Pujara said he's not too picky about his position.
"As an individual, I'm ready to do the job for the team. I don't know my position in the team. Once I get into the team, I will have a word with the captain and the coach and will get to know in detail what number they want me to bat at. Depending on the team's requirement, I am ready to play. Whatever number I will be asked to bat, I'll be ready to bat," he said.
Cheteshwar Pujara's average in the ongoing Ranji season. The Saurashtra batsman has scored 64 in five innings
Matches - 28
Inns - 50
Runs - 2,218
Highest - 206*
Average - 49.28
Strike rate - 49.28
Hundreds - 7
Fifties - 6