The last half century that came from Cheteshwar Pujara‘s bat came in February, 2021. It was a grittily constructed 73 at the MA Chidambaram stadium, against the very opponent he’s today seen struggling to put bat to ball.
Since then, he’s gone on to play 6 more Tests and has gone on to manage 153 runs in all. There have been failures against New Zealand in the big match stage, perhaps the biggest of them all- finals of the World Test Championship. There have been recurring failures against England, versus whom Pujara has looked less of his stern self with the bat and vulnerable to the incoming delivery.
Moreover, his approach to the game- simple that it may be- taking his own sweet time with the bat, consuming one dot delivery too many- has, so far, proved counter productive. It’s a strange case of sorts where possessing too much of patience has proved out to be his undoing.
All of this, exacerbated by the fact that his strike rate continues to be under scrutiny, has led to a situation where the once reliable and frequently scoring number#3 finds himself drawn to the edge; a point beyond which there’s no coming back.
Well, not when you are nearing 34 and part of a country that has the problem of plenty, not the dearth of it, where it comes to talent.
And if you are Farokh Engineer, someone who’s followed Cheteshwar Pujara’s batting, woeful in the recent months, then you do have a few things to say regarding whether the once-famous Wall. 2-in-the-making should even be playing the next Test at Leed’s for India.
That does bring us to question something that can no longer be ignored. What does the former Indian great, known for his excellent Test career, think about Pujara and, as a matter of fact, Ajinkya Rahane?
Does he think that either of them deserve to play or is someone else due to take, at least, one of their place in Kohli-led team’s final playing eleven?
At a time where most would not want to tamper with a winning team or introduce sudden changes, fact still is, that Cheteshwar Pujara’s career isn’t blossoming anymore and is being stagnant at the moment. This does mean that others- like Suryakumar Yadav, exceptionally talented, can no longer be turned a blind eye to. And that’s precisely what the great Engineer exclaimed in his interview to the Hindustan Times:
“Firstly, I am a huge fan of Suryakumar Yadav. I think he is a class player. I would certainly prefer him to Pujara or Rahane. They are class players, very good players, but Suryakumar Yadav is a match-winner. With Shreyas Iyer out of the team with injury, I think Suryakumar should certainly be in the team. He is an aggressive player; he will get you a quick hundred, a quick 70-80. He is a fabulous batsman, fabulous fielder and a wonderful human being as well.”
He’d conclude, “People are usually reluctant to change a winning combination but like they say ‘horses for courses’. It depends on the wicket in Headingley. I don’t see it being too different. The Headingley pitch will be a good Test wicket. It’s considered to be one of the finest batting pitches in the world. So, I would like to see the inclusion of Suryakumar Yadav. He is the trump card in the team.”