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Cheteshwar Pujara - Page 52

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Milestone man Pujara, Gambhir helps India Blue dominate on Day 1

 

Biting nails, ponderous running while chasing the ball and showing a feeling of  disinterest towards the game, that were the recorded reactions of India Red fielders on Day 1 of the final of pink ball Duleep trophy where the bowling team toiled on Day 1 reaping minimum fruits of the efforts put in by them.

 

The day started with India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir winning the game of luck i.e. coin toss for the second consecutive time. He wrote half of the script of the game at 1:30 P.M. when he decided to bat first. His aim was clear, to bat as many overs as possible so as to pile up a gigantic score on the board, thus putting the opposition team under mental pressure of chasing the first innings score.

 

Gautam Gambhir and Mayank Agarwal were out in the middle to accomplish their preset goal. They started off well replicating their actions and reactions of last group stage match sharing 144 runs for the first wicket. They were eyeing for something larger than that but in between Agarwal lost his concentration and played a loose shot towards short cover which was safely collected by vigilant Shikhar Dhawan . Gambhir and Agarwal laid a strong base at the start so that the other batsmen can cash it later in the game.

 

The succeeding batsman Cheteshwar Pujara knew about the importance of the game and he did not waste any time to get into action. He started his innings on a positive note with a boundary. From there he did not look back and was showing glimpses of being in good form. It looked like the old Pujara, who used to score consistently for the Indian team is back.

 

The India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir meanwhile was inching towards his century but was again unlucky not to complete his century as he played one back onto the stumps. Kuldeep Yadav provided a sigh of relief to the team before the lunch. This was the fourth consecutive time when Gambhir missed out of a century after scoring a half century and it was the second consecutive time when Gambhir was dismissed in nervous 90’s.

 

Pujara now had the responsibility to manage the team as they suffered two blows on a short distance. He was well supported by Rohit Sharma who shared 64 runs for the third wicket with Pujara.

 

Rohit Sharma himself showed that why he does not deserve a place in Test squad as once again the T20 ghost in him got recharged and Rohit who was playing quite well, went out of nowhere went out of the crease to play a big shot and was dismissed as he could not clear the distance. He contributed 30 runs to the teams total.

 

India Red bowlers were overjoyed and decided to put in extra effort in search of one more wicket but neither Pujara nor the next batsman Dinesh Kartik gave them any chance rest of the day. Neither of them was ready to take a risk as both clearly knew the need of the hour. They both batted till the end of the day adding 120 runs to India Blue account.

 

Meanwhile, Pujara became only the 902nd batsman to score 10000 runs in first-class cricket. He also completed his 26th first-class century soon after he achieved this milestone.

 

India Blue finished the day’s play on a score of 362/3.

 

The India Red bowlers will have to really work hard as India Blue has their target set in their mind, the India Red bowlers at any cost has to prevent India Blue to reach that target as if India Blue is able to able to bat 80-90 overs today, then there are chances that they can even beat their own score which they scored in the last match.

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India Blue piles up heaps of runs as Pujara, Jackson score centuries

On day 2 of the Duleep trophy, the atmosphere on the ground was quite relaxed; the match was going on like a typical first-class game. It was a joy for ardent cricket fans but was a pain for people who were out there in the stadium sitting on the grass in 31 degree Celsius. The match was moving ahead at snail’s pace, whilst all these was happening, the India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir was lying freely on a table enjoying each and every ball of the game. He was relishing every moment of the game as with each run scored, the chances of India Blue of winning the game was increasing manifolds. The India Blue team was playing according to the plan, score as much run as possible giving no chance to India Green to even come closer to the target.

The batsmen followed the instruction of the captain and every batsman spent as much time on the crease.

The day started with Pujara and Mithun coming to the crease. The early afternoon scenes were quite similar to day 1 as Jasprit Bumrah again dismissed a batsman off a no ball. Bumrah’s loss was Mithun’s gain; he went on to score 32 runs adding 68 runs for the fourth wicket with Pujara.

After his dismissal, the Tamil Nadu batsman Dinesh Karthik joined Pujara in the middle with a sole aim of spending as much time as possible. Both of them started the assault on India Green bowlers, as a result, the baffled India Green bowlers started bowling negative deliveries outside leg stump. Pragyan Ojha received a warning from the umpire for this act. The frustration was increasing with every passing delivery, while all this was happening, the Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara cruised to his 32nd first-class century in the 20th over of the day.

Both the batsmen teased the India Green bowlers before Karthik was dismissed on a score of 48. The game was not over yet as his succeeding batsman Sheldon Jackson went onto to score a century. He started his inning on a positive note taking 3 singles with two huge sixes that followed. After watching Jackson batting it looked like he has received shooting orders. He was firing at each and every bowler fetching as much runs as possible. Meanwhile, Pujara crossed the 150 run mark and was dismissed after scoring 166.

Not much was expected from lower order batsman but Jackson, Rasool and Karn Sharma went on to add 135 runs even after Pujara’s dismissal. Jackson scored 105 runs whereas Karn Sharma scored a half century. Rasool contributed 25 runs with the bat.

The India Blue team ended their marathon innings with a score of 707. The India Green has to chase 708 runs at any cost. It is the eventual target for them. They have 1080 balls to do so. A failure in achieving the aim and India Green will see themselves out of the tournament.

Even though cricket is known as the game of uncertainties but it is safe to assume that this is the end of the race for India Green and now only focus will be on how many runs can India Green score in reply to 707.

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Difficult to pick Googly and seam under lights: Pujara

The struggling Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara who came with a brilliant knock of 166 runs in the Duleep trophy game against India Green says that it is very difficult to spot googly under lights and picking up the seam is also a difficult task,

“Even when I was facing spinners, it was very difficult to pick the googly under the light, a little difficult to pick the seam on the pink ball.

“This was my first game with the pink ball. I enjoyed batting on this wicket. There wasn’t much help for the fast bowlers. The most difficult session was the third session [on the first day], under lights, when they took the second new ball. It moved around and came on faster.” said Pujara.

Pujara came to the crease in the second session of the first day when Gambhir ran out himself by running for the second suicidal run. Pujara played brilliantly for the last two sessions and was on a score of 63* at the stumps. He continued his brilliant run on second day’s play adding 103 runs more to what he scored on day 1.

The India Blue lost two wickets at end of day 1 but Pujara stood there like a wall. He got support from the fast bowler Abhimanyu Mithun who came in as a night watchman. Both added 68 runs for the fourth wicket. After Mithun’s dismissal Dinesh Karthik joined Pujara in the middle, both went onto to further torture the India green bowlers sharing 108 runs amongst themselves.

Pujara century was not the only century on day 2 as his state teammate Sheldon Jackson also scored a century before being dismissed for 105 off just 114 balls. His knock included 5 sixes and 7 fours.

“The wicket was good and the ball was coming on nicely. When the new ball comes, it gets difficult [to sight it] because of the speed changes, the ball skids on at good pace, so making the minor adjustment takes a little bit of time.

“Every match I score is important, but to score in such matches is very important because it is live and people are watching. It [the surface] should behave a little differently on days 3 and 4. Both the sides [of the ball] are scuffed up a little bit.” said a delighted Jackson.

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Agarwal shines on Day 1 as India Blue scores 336/3

The discarded Indian opener Gautam Gambhir and Karnataka batsman Mayank Agarwal, on day 1 led a strong foundation to help India Blue to put up 336 on the board. Both the openers shared 212 runs for the first wicket.

On a bright sunny afternoon in Great Noida when the sun was shining at 35 degrees C, the Indian Blue captain won the toss and decided to bat first. India Blue started off well with Agarwal hitting a boundary off Bumrah on the second ball of the game followed by another in the next over but soon Bumrah trapped Agarwal in front of stumps. Agarwal was on his way back to the pavilion before umpire asked him to wait as they were checking for a no-ball. After having a close look the third umpire called it for a no-ball as Bumrah had overstepped.

Agarwal took a deep sigh of relief and then continued his assault on the bowlers. He did not change his playing style but avoided taking any risk this time.

Both Agarwal and Gambhir started milking singles in between the wickets to keep the scoreboard moving whereas Agarwal continued to entertain the fans by hitting occasional boundaries.

The India Blue crossed the hundred run mark in 24th over when Mayank Agarwal smashed a boundary of Jasprit Bumrah again. It was seen that Agarwal was playing freely hitting boundaries on regular intervals whereas Gambhir was taking some extra time at the crease playing safe shots. It was evident from the fact that Agarwal completed his half century in just 64 balls whereas Gambhir took 107 balls to reach the 50 runs mark. The similar scenes continued for next one and a half hour.

Then came a moment of joy when Agarwal cruised to his second first-class century in just 142 balls. Gambhir was too approaching towards his century but he was deprived of the mark as he was run out when he ran for the second suicidal run. Despite a poor throw, the former Indian wicketkeeper pounced upon the ball and dislodged the bails like a superman. Gambhir was dismissed on a score of 90 missing out on a century in the second consecutive innings.

The wicket did not affect Agarwal style of play and he continued to play in his own style. Pujara was too supporting him well like Gambhir was doing earlier. Meanwhile, Agarwal crossed the 150 run mark.

In the end of the day, the India Green had their moment giving a double blow to the India Blue in form of Mayank Agarwal and Sidhesh Lad. Agarwal was dismissed on the score of 161 whereas Lad could just score 1 run. India Blue ended the day with a score of 336/3.

Agarwal’s century and a half century from Gambhir and Pujara were the highlights of the day. India blue will be looking to add 100-150 runs more in the first two sessions whereas Pujara will also look to score another century to present a case in front of selectors.

Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh
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While Kohli chooses to rest, other stars set to grace Duleep trophy

Though the Indian Test captain Virat Kohli has decided not to play the Duleep trophy final due to team India’s gruelling schedule ahead, other players like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Harbhajan Singh are set to participate in the trophy with an aim to get selected for the Indian team.

All the three players are struggling for their place in the Indian team. Though Murali Vijay is the permanent member of the Indian team but not to forget he was dropped for the third Test match in West Indies despite being fit.

Talking of Chetshwar Pujara, with every passing day his ability to score runs is falling, as a result, he has been dropped many times. But Pujara is a bully on home soil as his average in India is very impressive. Keeping this fact in mind selectors will also keep a keen eye on Pujara as team India is set to play 13 Test matches on home soil.

Last but not the least, Harbhajan Singh who skipped the first game of Duleep trophy due to unavailability will also grace the day with his presence. A veteran of 103 Test matches, Bhajji has been in and out of the team from past 5 years. He was neither the part of the Indian team which toured West Indies nor was part of home series (Test series) against South Africa last year. He has a direct competition with Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra as Ashwin has fixed his place in Indian team. It is the biggest stage for him to perform and get an Indian call but if fails here, then it might be the end of the career for him at least in Test cricket.

Apart from these three players,; Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina, captains of India Blue and India Green respectively, will also be part of the game and both of them will be leading their respective sides. Winner of the game will qualify for the finals against India Red led by Yuvraj Singh. The final game will be a five-day affair and will be played at the same venue.

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6 players whose place is under threat due to KL Rahul’s performance!

The 23-year-old youngster KL Rahul has scored the third fastest T20I hundred against West Indies in Florida. His hundred came off 46 balls. His hundred revealed his talent to get accustomed to all formats of the game. Captain Dhoni after the one-run defeat in the first T20I rightly said that  KL Rahul is a batsman who will excel across the formats.

However, Rahul, who is regarded as Test specialist since he made debut for India against Australia, displayed his class as a batsman of great calibre. Rahul in the second Test of his career at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)  showed his technique and prolific batting as he scored a hundred. But he has to bat in Test as a stop-gap opener. But whenever he received an opportunity exploited it.

His IPL performance as a middle order batsman with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batsman helped him to grab the eyeball of national selectors.He was chosen for a low-intensity Zimbabwe tour. Rahul in his ODI debut scored a hundred as an opener and in the first series of his career, he scored a total of 196 runs in three matches.

In T20I debut he was dismissed for a duck as an opener, but in the second and third T20I against Zimbabwe, he scored 47 unbeaten and 22 respectively .

Now following the innings of Rahul against West Indies in Florida he has bought himself in the competition to play all three formats. His innings also gave selectors a headache. Rahul is also comfortable in all positions.

So, whom Rahul may replace in all three formats?

Here is the answer.

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Is Cheteshwar Pujara a victim of a selection conundrum?

Cheteshwar Pujara was criticized for his slow inning against West Indies in the second Test at Sabina Park, in a four-match series.  In the first Test of the series, his horrendous shot after getting settled at the crease led to his downfall, but the slow innings in the second Test did not go down well with Indian fans. Pujara worked hard before the second Test. When the Indian team management declared a day off, Pujara was seen practicing  in the middle.

“I just want to practice a little more. Since I didn’t score runs in the first Test, I can get some extra hits. I am the kind of player who likes to work hard. Whenever there is an option to practice I prefer to practice,” Pujara said.

But on a difficult wicket where West Indies bowlers were bowling with discipline, Pujara’s defense was impeccable. He scored 46 runs off 158 balls and was looking fine to score his a half century, maybe even a hundred. Pujara never looked uncomfortable or confused on a not so batting friendly wicket. He was determined to play a good innings, but the seaming wicket and a disciplined Windies bowling didn’t let him accelerate the innings.

However, there is no harm in it as KL Rahul kept the innings going. But Pujara was about to score his half-century after a gap of eight months. Before the West Indies series, Pujara last played for India against South Africa in a home series in December 2015. So he needed a little bit of time to settle down.

A finely poised inning came to an end due to a misjudged attempted single 

In the second Test, Pujara made a mistake, as he attempted a misjudged single at square-leg where Roston Chase was quicker than what Pujara anticipated. He pushed a delivery from Jason Holder to the leg square and ran for a single, but he misjudged the situation, and as a result, Roston Chase’s dead-eye throw uprooted the stump at the nonstriking end.  Pujara first slumped, then desperately dived and then didn’t raise his head for a while. He waited for third umpire’s decision and then left the ground as a heartbroken child who missed out on this chocolates.

It was really a heartbroken incident for a cricketer who gets run out after getting back to cricket in a gap of eight months. In ODIs, run out are okay, to an extent, as the pressure of rotating the strike and keeping up with a often pre-decided run rate is a big factor, but in Test cricket, a batsman gets a good amount of time to settle down and can take his time about he is going to do.

But Pujara made a mistake and will probably pay for it when Murali Vijay returns.

Fans cry foul

Indian fans criticized Pujara for his tedious innings.  But they failed to understand the importance of his wicket. And they can’t differentiate between different formats of the game. For example a blitz in T20 cricket where a batsman desperately goes about hitting balls for a boundary and running hard. But why these fans want razzmatazz of T20 cricket in a five-day match? The problem is their inability to judge the wicket. Test cricket often tests the character of a batsman. In the 5-day format of the game, patience is a key component for  a batsman who wants to succeed. Also, Pujara needs some time to get into the groove. During his 46 runs, Pujara’s defense was impeccable; footwork was outstanding and his technique was flawless.

Pujara was troubled by Jason Holder’s seaming delivery once or twice and then Miguel Cummins’ delivery unexpectedly once breached Pujara’s defense which went over the bails. Other that the above-mentioned incidents, Pujara was outstanding at the crease.

In overseas conditions, he has failed to justify his place

But at the end of the day, his scores will speak on his behalf and nothing else. In overseas conditions, he has scored only two hundreds. In 2015, on Sri Lanka tour, Pujara carried his bat (145*) in the final Test against Sri Lanka when other Indian batsmen slumped against Sri Lankan bowlers. He scored a hundred in South Africa in a low scoring series in 2013.

Besides this, he has failed in Australia, New Zealand, England and in West Indies. His Test average in overseas is not even decent. He has 33.50 average in Australia,  22.20 in England, 15 in New Zealand  and in West Indies he has an average of 31.

When Pujara made his international debut against Australia in 2010 he was reckoned to be India’s next star in Test cricket. He scored 72 in the second innings of his debut Test, his innings was a glimpse of wht=at is in store for the future. Now it is up to Pujara to build on that promise.

Low scores will not speak for Pujara

He has been playing Test cricket for India for six years now. He has an astonishing home series record but has failed to justify his talent in overseas conditions.

Yes, he deserves more chances, but the Indian team’s current selection conundrum may not support him, as Rohit Sharma is warming the bench and KL Rahul’s 158 is not a good sign for him. Pujara may have to seat on the bench  in the next Test, but he still deserves chances as he got out when he was on the verge of converting his promising innings into something substantial. So it remains to be seen how Indian selectors will handle this conundrum with an impeding comeback of Vijay in the next game.

KL Rahul might replace Gautam Gambhir in the second Test against England.
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KL Rahul’s hundred at Sabina Park proves he is ready for a big role

24-year-old KL Rahul has emerged as one of India’s most exciting batsmen in Test cricket. The opener has proved he is ready for a big responsibility. He has notched up one hundred after another in the few opportunities he has received. On Sunday, he scored a brilliant hundred against West Indies at Sabina Park.

India’s part-time opener KL Rahul once again exploited the opportunity that was given to him as regular opener Vijay got injured just ahead of the second Test against West Indies at  Sabina Park, Jamaica.  On a wicket where spinners are getting a decent amount of turn and fast bowlers are getting the assistance from the pitch, Rahul scored his third career hundred. Shannon Gabriel  used cutters and captain Jason Holder used the seam to bowl well. Other batsmen like Pujara and captain Virat Kohli, who scored a double-hundred in the first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, was visibly not feeling comfortable against Holder.

But Rahul rose to the occasion, as he scored 158 during his 303 balls stay at the crease. Rahul’s technique, judgment to play a delivery and footwork helped him on a not so batting friendly wicket.

A great character exploits opportunity

The 24-year-old displayed his character during his first hundred at Sydney Cricket Ground  (SCG) after a horrific performance in the first Test against Australia in Melbourne in 2014. Later against Sri Lanka, Rahul scored a hundred as Shikhar Dhawan was out of the team due to a finger injury. Rahul has played only six Test matches but he has cemented his place in the team. When Dhawan is suffering from inconsistency, Rahul’s form is a good sign for India.

Unlike the first Test of this ongoing series; At the Sabina Park batting is not an easy job. Dhawan already had thrown his wicket to Roston Chase.

Rahul also made sure that along with saving his wicket, he has to score runs quickly, so he choose the loose ball to send them to the boundary . He used sweep shot against the spinners. His footwork was commendable. Rahul’s 158 runs came to an end when he nicked a leg-stump delivery from Shanon Gabriel  and was caught behind by Dowrich.

“Wicket was not the easiest”

Coming to the press conference at the end of the second day of the Test Rahul said,  “the wicket was not the easiest to bat on.” Rahul gave credit to the West Indies bowlers as they improved a lot in comparison to their last match performance. Rahul said, “You probably have to give a little bit of credit to the West Indies bowlers as well. They came in with a set plan this morning, to keep it tight and not give away easy runs. They tried to bowl the fourth-fifth stump channel.”

Rahul who loves to score in singles, scored his hundred with a six off Roston Chase over the mid on to release the pressure. He hit three sixes during his innings. He also kept up the pace of the innings when batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was playing very slowly and West Indies bowlers were creating pressure from the other end. Rahul unplugged the pressure playing for boundaries and singles with ease.

After playing this innings, Rahul stated that he was looking to be confident and build on the good form that he has been for the last couple of matches. “I tried to keep things simple. I’ve been in good form for the last 3-4 months. I’ve been moving well, and hitting the ball really well.”

The Karnataka batsman also said he wants to score consistently and focus on all three formats. “I’ve been consistent and that’s what I want to do as a cricketer, to be consistent in all the three formats. I want to play to the best of my abilities and play my roles and responsibilities for the team. Right now I’m in a good space and the focus levels have been great.”

Rahul during his first innings in the Caribbean became the first Indian batsman to score  a hundred on his first appearance. The previous record was held by Poly Umrigar, who scored 130 in 1952-53 West Indies series.  Overall, Rahul is now the fifth Indian batsman to score a hundred in his maiden Test innings in WI.

The youngster is only the second Indian to convert his first three fifties into centuries.  No doubt, Rahul’s form as an opener is not a good treat for left-handed opener  Shikhar Dhawan or Cheteshwar Pujara.

West Indies wicket keeper eyes the hit from Cheteshwar Pujara of India off a delivery from West Indies bowler Devendra Bishoo on day 2 of the 2nd Test between India and the West Indies on July 31, 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica. / AFP / Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Sanjay Manjrekar not too optimistic about Cheteshwar Pujara

As India ended day 2 of the second test in Jamaica, there were very few reasons to ponder about. Opener KL Rahul registered his career-best score of 158, and that was his third career century, all away from home. The wicket as a whole stayed difficult as the other batsmen surrounding Rahul failed to convert their starts and register a big score.

But the biggest aspect of worry for the Indians would be the form displayed by the otherwise dependable Cheteshwar Pujara. The Saurashtra batsman seemed to be a little out of sorts against a mediocre West Indian bowling attack at Kingston. Rather than trying to break the shackles, Pujara went into the shell and got into a mode of only defensive cricket.

According to TV commentator and analyst Sanjay Manjrekar, the signs displayed by Pujara were far from optimistic. In his column for ESPN Cricinfo, the former Indian batsman spoke about a few issues about the match. “Pujara does not look the assured batsman he used to be’ It looked like Cheteshwar Pujara would be back to his run-scoring ways after a century in Sri Lanka last year, but his recent form suggests otherwise,” Manjrekar said.

The commentator has made a valid point out here, as after scoring a half-century against South Africa in Mohali, Pujara has completely looked pale. The India number three doesn’t seem to have too many options with his run making shots and that is hindering his skills at the top.

Manjrekar also criticized the approach of the hosts as the West Indies bowlers were quite defensive. “West Indies had a defensive approach overall,” he said. “The West Indies bowlers kept the runs in check in the first session, but that didn’t help them much as they failed to take wickets,” Manjrekar added. “West Indies need better leadership and guidance.” “In spite of having limitations with skill and ability, proper leadership can still motivate an inexperienced West Indies side to do better,” he said.

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Twitter reacts to Pujara’s ultra slow innings

Yesterday, Cheteshwar Pujara was seen struggling against the West Indies inexperienced bowlers. The bowlers were bowling a tight line and lengths and Pujara had no answer to that. He was just blocking the ball and was waiting for the chances. He himself got buried under the pressure and ended up being run-out. Here is Twitter reacted to it showed concerns on Pujara’s form –