The failure of India's Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara to kick on against Australia is severely hurting as he was perceived to be in fine fettle after his recent exploits with Sussex in the County Cricket
Cheteshwar Pujara (Pic: AFP)
The 'holy trinity' of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Rohit Sharma has given Indian fans joyous moments over the years but how future ready is India's Test batting as the trio is ready for their last dance. The seismic defeat during the high-profile WTC final at the Oval made it mandatory for the bigwigs to search for a solution to that question.
The failure of India's Test specialist Pujara to kick on against Australia is severely hurting as he was perceived to be in fine fettle after his recent exploits with Sussex in the County Cricket. His last memorable innings remains that 77 against Australia in Sydney in 2021, and if we take out a 90 and 102 against Bangladesh at Chattogram in 2022, the cupboard has a bare look.
In fact, Pujara has played 17 Tests in the 2021-2023 WTC cycle and made 928 runs at an average of 32 with a solitary hundred, a record so underwhelming for a team's No. 3. So now, the question is who will be our next No. 3 if not Pujara? India tried Hanuma Vihari at that position during the home series against Sri Lanka in early 2022 and he returned with one fifty in 3 innings.
But that plan seemed to have shelved for the time being after Pujara returned to the side during the tour to Bangladesh later that year. We don't seem to have another option anywhere around the corner at the moment. However, India's headache is not restricted to No. 3 as it trickles down to No. 4 as well, a position that belongs to modern-day great in Kohli.
In the last four years, Pujara has aggregated 163, 702, 409 and 181 runs in the longest format of the game. He has amassed 1455 runs in 52 innings at an average of 29.7.
Pujara's highest score was 59 in six innings and 41 runs in two innings in the WTC final. The numbers do not paint a nice picture, as Pujara himself would have wanted. More because, he has been successful against Australia. For anyone who plays at No. 3 and just one format of the game, there are too many expectations that he has to shoulder amid hype over his County stint.