Cricket / batting
Is Cheteshwar Pujara the new Rahul Dravid?
The world’s No.1 Test team needed a flying start to assert themselves in this Adelaide Test, yet their irresponsible, overconfident and brash stroke play suggested otherwise. Poor shot selection compounded by epic brain fades caused the downfall of many batsmen in this Indian side, resulting in them gifting their wickets cheaply to an Aussie outfit desperate to show their country that they had changed for the better. Australia bowled well with much pace, aggression and accuracy, but even they will agree that it was definitely the visitors that got themselves out on Day 1. As India stumbled to five for 86 with a long tail to follow, Tim Paine could be seen licking his lips at the prospect of bundling out the tourists for under 150. As the Bollywood beats faded quicker than India’s hopes, one man stood firm. One man refused to give in. One man decided he would not allow his team to follow a narrative they had been accustomed to for so long on Aussie soil. They call him Cheteshwar Pujara, the new wall of India. Pujara was sublime, stoic and erudite in his innings. India needed someone to stand up and hold the fort as wickets continued to tumble like nine pins. Pujara answered the call handsomely. While his fellow countrymen lunged greedily at the wide full balls offered by Mitchell Starc and friends, Pujara simply said, “Nope. Goodbye off drive. Goodbye cover drive. Hello discipline. Hello patience. Let’s dig in for a long one”. And dig in he did. The on-drive and flick soon became his most productive shots as he waited sensibly for the ball to enter his zone for a scoring opportunity. Pujara’s foundation was built session by session as he accumulated the deliveries and soaked in the sapping conditions. He was immovable, defiant and unforgiving in his bat-a-thon, causing Australia to wait hungrily for a chance to attack the lesser batsman at the other end. At one point he was 19 off 90 balls, and it was obvious that he was not going to leave anytime soon. The man himself later admitted that it took him two whole sessions work out how to bat on the Adelaide pitch, and thankfully his graft breathed new life into an otherwise hapless Indian first innings. As Pujara’s yogic powers of concentration continued to grow, it was clear that the memory of another great Indian legend was manifesting himself in this defiant performance. Could Pujara be the Rahul Dravid for his generation? Given this hundred, his batting style and even the statistics and past performances, there is certainly enough evidence to show that this could be a possibility. Pujara is no stranger to playing the Mr Dependable role for his country, and he has done so on more than one occasion throughout his relatively young career. Back in November 2012, in the second Test match against England at Mumbai, India were once again reeling at five for 119, with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, a young Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh all back in the shed for not much. The latter had been castled for a duck by Graeme Swann too. Pujara came in, assessed the situation and applied supreme discipline to grind his team out of a hole to a respectable first innings score of 327. He scored a phenomenal 135 off a mind-boggling 350 balls at a monk-like strike rate of just 38.27. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say; though on this occasion it wasn’t enough to grant India a victory. The great wall of Pujara would again show his powers against Sri Lanka in August 2015 in the third Test at Colombo. With the visitors teetering at seven for 180, Pujara’s unbeaten 145 off 289 balls arrested the momentum back India’s way, lifting them to 312. He had scored over 45 per cent of the team total by himself, a monumental effort that secured India the win and ultimately the series. England once again witnessed another Pujara epic in August of this year at Southampton in the final Test. Sweating it out, Pujara prospered with yet another gutsy unbeaten 132 off 257 balls to take India to 273 after they had earlier fallen to eight for 195. It just goes to show how tough, patient and mentally strong Pujara is; it almost seems as though he was made to bat in these situations, further likening this possible comparison to the great Rahul Dravid. Even on a statistical level there are some uncanny developments in Pujara’s career that continue to draw a strong similarity to Dravid. Pujara is currently 30 years old and has 16 Test hundreds to his name. Rahul Dravid at 30 also had 16 Test hundreds to his name. It took 67 innings for Dravid to reach 3000 Test runs, 84 innings to reach 4000 and 108 innings to hit 5000 runs. As Pujara crossed the 5000 mark with his first Test century Down Under, the number of innings taken for him to reach those previous milestones follows this exact same parable. Truly remarkable. So it begs the question: Will Pujara one day grow into a batsman of a calibre akin to the mighty Rahul Dravid? With his traditional Test match batting style, exceptionally calm temperament and supreme powers of concentration, it now remains highly likely. With a healthy Test match batting average at a tick over 50, there are strong signs that we will witness further great innings from him, ensuring that the great wall of India continues to build well into the 21st century. Dravid will certainly be pleased.
Kedar Jadhav surprised by selection snub
India's star middle-order batsman was left surprised after he was snubbed from the selection for the final three ODI's. Jadhav injured his hamstring in the ODI against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, earlier this year. Jadhav went on to play even the first match after his rehab and went on to score 25 ball 41 against a formidable India A team. Even though his side lost the match, Jadhav showed that he's still very much in touch with the game. The selectors in the ground in Delhi said nothing to Jadhav prior to the match and the squad was announced while he was fielding. Jadhav was asked to join the India 'C' squad as late as Wednesday evening and incidentally, the squad was announced late in the night. The selectors couldn't pick him without testing him out in a match. This confusion should have been cleared when the selectors called him up. Jadhav was surprised over the fact that even though he was match-fit, he wasn't picked. The selectors even asked him to play the Deodhar match, giving him the opinion that he was going to be picked for the remainder of the ODI series. Jadhav said that he would have concentrated on his Ranji cricket had he known this before. For their justification, MSK Prasad cited Jadhav's frequent breakdowns as the reason for his snub and that they want to give his body adequate time before it hits the international circuit again. While it represents a clear lack of communication from the Selection committee, a lot is left to be pondered for the Indian fans.
Shikhar Dhawan reportedly unhappy with SRH.
Shikhar Dhawan is reportedly unhappy with SRH. The prolific left-hand southpaw has been one of the most consistent Indian batsmen in the tournament, since its inception. Shikhar is seeking a move away from the Hyderabad based franchise. Dhawan is said to be unhappy with his low pay and some sources say that he had an argument with coach Tom Moody as well. Shikhar Dhawan wasn't retained by SRH last year but was bought for 5.2 Crore Rupees using the RTM card. Mumbai lost the bid as a result of this. As per the rule, the teams could retain 3 players and SRH decided to go with Warner (12 crores) and Bhuvaneswar Kumar (8.5 crores). Why is Dhawan unhappy with SRH? The Mumbai Mirror report which revealed Dhawan's dissatisfaction with his franchise, read "Dhawan is not happy in Sunrisers Hyderabad and has expressed his desire to leave.” While he still has 3 years to go as per his contract, a move can certainly be forced. As far as the argument goes, reports suggest that Dhawan insisted his coach on retaining him as the number 1 or 2 player as he is one of the top 4 players when it comes to limited overs, in the Indian Cricket team. What's next? Dhawan's likely destination is Mumbai Indians and SRH is already said to be negotiating a deal with MI. “That’s right. If we get a couple of good players as a trade-off, we’re open to it,” a Sunrisers official was quoted as saying by Mumbai Mirror. SRH is also trying for a deal with the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils. Yesterday, the Mumbai Indians confirmed the arrival of South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock as the first trade of the window. Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman has been released by the Rohit Sharma-led side as well. Author's take While bowling has been their strong link, batting has been a let down for SRH on many occasions and Dhawan has been one of the leading run scorers for them.Dhawan formed a prolific pair with David Warner and was a nightmare to the bowlers. With Warner set to return next year, I'm eager to watch the dynamic duo play.