Gavaskar says team can look for someone else if they don’t trust Pujara’s method
Former India legend Sunil Gavaskar. (STRDEL/AFP via Getty Images)
FORMER batting legend Sunil Gavaskar has backed the under-pressure Cheteshwar Pujara and said the Indian team management can explore “someone else” if it feels his method is not working anymore.
Known for his rock-solid defence and textbook batting technique, Pujara received a lot of flak for not being able to put away the bad deliveries in recent years, the latest being the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
“Pujara has got to the international level playing in a certain way, he has got to trust that method. In case, the team doesn’t trust that method, then they have to maybe look at bringing somebody else in,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying.
The former captain added: “But this is a method that’s worked for him, worked for India. He has held the fort at one end while the stroke-players at the other end have been at liberty to play their shots knowing that there is a solid player at one end.
“I think he’s got to believe in himself and carry on playing as he knows best because he has done a fantastic job for India over the years.”
During the course of the two-year World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, Pujara failed to register a century and scored at an average of less than 30.
He’ll be next seen in action during India’s five-match Test series against England, which begins in Nottingham from Wednesday (4).
With Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal ruled out due to an injury, Gavaskar backed KL Rahul to open the batting. The batting great also favoured playing the aggressive Rishabh Pant ahead of Wriddhiman Saha in England
“It depends on your combination. If you are going to go in with five batsmen and a wicket-keeper, then I think you would look at somebody like a Rishabh Pant.
“Also, it depends on where you play, if you are playing for example, in India where the ball turns a lot more, so more of the wicket-keeping skills are required, then you would look to go in for somebody as outstanding as Wriddhiman Saha,” said Gavaskar.
“But otherwise, if you are looking at playing in England, where the wicketkeeper has to stand back and collect the deliveries against most of the pacers, then I would still go in for somebody like Rishabh Pant,” he added.
Gavaskar predicted an India win by a 4-0 or 3-1 margin, depending on the weather, adding that the visitors would emerge victorious with England’s batting looking depleted.
“My prediction is, if again this time I am making it contingent (on) to the weather… if the hot conditions are there, hot conditions are there for 22 out of possible 25 days, then I think India will win 4-0.
“In case you have a situation where the weather is going to be a factor, then I think India will win 3-1, but I think India will still go on to win, because England is now a very depleted side, and their batting, as we saw in the series against New Zealand, is brittle,” he said.
During the series, one of the big battles would be between seasoned pacer James Anderson and Virat Kohli.
Gavaskar said: “Looking at the way Kohli adapted in 2018, looking at the way he was so certain around off-stump, his shot selection was so immaculate…
“… I just think Anderson as a fast bowler getting three-year older and Virat Kohli getting three years more experienced, and I think batsmen are at their peak around this 28-33-34, I do believe that Virat Kohli will come out triumphs like he did in 2018.”
The likes of Kohli and Pujara haven’t scored a Test hundred for a while but Gavaskar felt that would not play on their minds
“I think it is a great incentive for both of them, both of them are run hungry batsmen, both of them want to get big hundreds. But I don’t think it is going to play on their minds,” he said.
“It doesn’t play on your mind, no batsman thinks that far ahead, a good or great batsman only thinks about the next ball, they don’t even think of the previous ball, and both these batsmen without doubt are very great players,” he also said.