Cheteshwar Pujara: Lack of Intent or Tried-and-Tested Technique?

Yet again, one more speculation in Indian Cricket! Cheteshwar Pujara’s batting approach was criticized in the third test match of the ongoing Border Gavaskar Trophy. Many experts including former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting had a say on his approach. Ponting expressed that it was not the right approach from Pujara as it was putting pressure on the other batsman.

Pujara’s Approach:

Let’s have a look at the approach everyone is talking about. Cheteshwar Pujara, being a one-format player, only plays Tests for India. He has adopted a particular approach in Tests which frustrates the bowlers quite often. He bats and defends too many balls in his innings. There is always a question mark on his scoring rate. Pujara was 9(53) at the end of the day’s play on day 2. This led to an increase in the talk about his approach. India was still behind Australia by 242 runs.

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What is missing in his approach?

As mentioned, people criticized his approach because of the low scoring rate. There was also a buzz word trending on that day: “Intent”. Have you heard this word before in Cricket? You might have. MS Dhoni’s approach was also censured in the same way and it was told that there’s no “Intent” in his approach. It’s very important to know what this technique offers Pujara.

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Pujara keeps defending and spends as much time possible on the wicket. What this does is, the batsman gets set, he now has his concentration on point. On the other hand, bowlers get tired, their accuracy gets hampered. Moreover, the intensity that the bowler needs is on the decline too. There’s a similarity between Dhoni’s and Pujara’s approach: “Minimal risk in the process”.

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Pujara waits for the bad ball, he takes good balls out of context. He defends those good balls and never tries to play an intimidating shot off the same. He knows, he’ll get that ball which he’ll attack. Same goes with Dhoni, he minimizes the risk in the process.

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We’ve talked about the scoring rate and the missing intent but there’s one more aspect which experts have pointed out.

The pressure at the other end:

As Ricky Ponting mentioned, “I felt it was putting too much pressure on his batting partners.” It’s a very valid point as the batsman on the other end isn’t scoring at a good rate, you definitely feel under pressure.

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Because, if that batsman isn’t scoring, you have to take the charge. But why? This is a different format altogether. 5 day Test Cricket means that you have enough time to spend on the wicket and access the conditions. You can take your time, get settled and move ahead. There isn’t a so-called burden because of Pujara’s method on the other end. Batsmen need to accept that, that is the way Pujara bats, and that is the way he has won games for India in the past.

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Should Pujara stick with the same approach?

Definitely. This is the same approach which helped in the Border Gavaskar Trophy last time around. Mind you, he faced the most number of balls ever played by a visiting batsman on Australian soil in four-match series or less.

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He was named the ‘Player of the Series’. This is the same approach which helped India win the only match against South Africa in the test series in 2017-18. Dhoni stuck with his approach even though that was not rewarding him late in his career. That’s because the same method did help him win games for India.

Moreover, Pujara after scoring his slowest fifty in test cricket in the first innings was one of the saviours for India in the second innings as well. India pulled off a draw with a resilient effort. That’s what Test Cricket is, “Patience and resilience”.

Pujara can definitely show some intent. There’s no doubt about that. However, if he’s uncomfortable playing big shots and if he’s getting out in the same, that can cost India the game. Remember, India is just playing with 5 specialist batsmen and Pujara is an integral part of the team. Moreover, the uneven bounce on the Sydney wicket shouldn’t be neglected.

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Something Pujara needs to work on in his technique:

There’s an imperfection in Pujara’s footwork, I won’t call it as a flaw. Basically, Pujara stays in the crease and gets stuck on a variable bounce wicket.

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It was quite evident when he got out to Pat Cummins, he can’t move forward due to the extra bounce. However, he can definitely play it on backfoot and can even punch it towards the backward point. But, Pujara gets stuck in the crease. His inadequate movement of the back-leg makes him weaker against fast bowlers like Cummins who doesn’t miss his length quite often.

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One thought on “Cheteshwar Pujara: Lack of Intent or Tried-and-Tested Technique?

  1. If he is going to play big shot on bad balls, then he won’t survive for long time and there will be collapse like it happens with India while playing abroad. It’s always good to spend as much as time on a wicket especially in Australia.
    I totally agree with Pujara’s Intent, Patience ,Resilience and his Style in this challenging format.

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