VVS Laxman has heaped praise on Test specialist batsman Cheteshwar Pujara for the mindset with which India No. 3 approached his innings during his 189-ball 91 in the Leeds Test.
During an interaction, VVS Laxman reckoned that Cheteshwar Pujara capitalized on every opportunity he got from the England seamers.
VVS Laxman Impressed With Cheteshwar Pujara’s Mindset During The 2nd Innings
India succumbed to defeat by an innings and 76 runs on Day 4 at Headingley against England in the 3rd Test. While Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli notched up half-centuries in the second innings, Ajinkya Rahane failed to come up with a decent score yet again.
Cheteshwar Pujara, though, finally returned to form with a sublime 91* off 180 balls, an innings that featured 15 fours. Trailing England by 354 runs in the first innings, India ended Day 3 on an impressive 215 for 2, whittling down the deficit to 139 by stumps.
VVS Laxman said: “I was impressed with Pujara’s mindset during the 2nd innings because whenever the ball was on offer to score, he capitalized on it.”
The former middle-order batsman VVS Laxman added that Cheteshwar Pujara’s decisive foot movement was a major reason why he was able to convert the loose deliveries provided by the English seamers. VVS Laxman noted that the Indian No.3 regularly took a front foot stride which enabled him to transfer his body weight towards the bowler. As a result, his bat was firmly behind the line of the ball.
“And the second thing was his feet movement. He was looking to take his front foot forward because of which his body weight was going towards the bowler instead of falling on the off-stump. The result was that the bat was not hanging outside the off-stump, it was behind the line of the ball and that’s something you expect Pujara to continue,” Laxman said.
Cheteshwar Pujara was under immense pressure when he walked out to bat during India’s second innings. In the 1st innings, Cheteshwar Pujara was brilliantly set up by James Anderson with a series of inswingers and the pacer followed it up with an outswinger to scalp the wicket. The manner of the dismissal attracted a lot of criticism.
However, the Saurashtra cricketer came out with a refreshingly positive approach in the second innings. He got a few leg-side freebies early in his innings but the veteran Indian batsman ensured he cashed in on them every single time. Cheteshwar Pujara played at the same tempo throughout his knock-on Day 3 at Headingley.
VVS Laxman: Ajinkya Rahane Is A Little Tentative And Restless
Explaining the reasons behind Ajinkya Rahane’s lean patch, VVS Laxman said the Indian vice-captain has looked very tentative and restless during the initial phases of his innings in the series thus far. Citing examples of his dismissals in the first innings at Lord’s and in both innings of the Leeds Test, VVS Laxman claimed that Ajinkya Rahane’s body was still in motion when he poked at a delivery outside off-stump.
“I think Ajinkya Rahane is a little tentative and restless at the start of his innings because of which I think he is late on the ball. If you see his dismissals at Headingley and also in the 1st innings at Lord’s, I just feel his body was still moving when he nicked the ball.”
VVS Laxman advised Ajinkya Rahane to be nimble on his feet and take forward strides to ensure that he transfers his weight towards the bowler.
“I think he has to be quicker and nimble on his feet and if he can push his weight forward towards the bowler, he’ll be in a much better position. And just take your time,” Laxman concluded.
Ajinkya Rahane is in the midst of yet another free fall. The Indian vice-captain has managed just 358 runs in 17 innings this year at an average of 21.05 with only two 50-plus scores. It’s fair to assume that the fourth Test between England and India at the Oval is crucial for his long-term fortunes in the Indian Test team.
While Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have played 14 Tests each since the beginning of 2020 and average 26.25 and 27.56 runs per innings, Virat Kohli averages a poor 24.68 in 11 Tests. India’s No. 3, 4, and 5 have just one century between them during this period – Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 in Melbourne – when the team has played seven Tests against England, four against Australia, and three against New Zealand.
England 432 (Root 121, Malan 70, Hameed 68, Burns 61, Shami 4-95) beat India 78 (Sharma 19, Anderson 3-6, Overton 3-14) and 278 (Pujara 91, Sharma 59, Kohli 55, Robinson 5-65) by an innings and 76 runs