IND vs ENG 2nd Test: Off-colour Cheteshwar Pujara comes good with resilient 45 but falls short of his half-century

IND vs ENG: Cheteshwar Pujara hits top-gear after lean patch, smashes 50 to rescue India
IND vs ENG: Cheteshwar Pujara hits top-gear after lean patch, smashes 50 to rescue India

IND vs ENG 2nd Test: 45, 9, 12*, 4, 15, 8, 17, 0, 7, 21 — this is how Cheteshwar Pujara’s last 10 innings looked like before the 2nd innings against England at Lord’s in the 2nd Test. That he has struggled will be an understatement. His strike rate came down and the classic Pujara began to move back to his own cocoon as runs dried up. But Sunday was a day of redemption for India’s best Test batsman of the last five years. While he fell five runs short of his half-century, it was his resilience and composure that steadied India. A 100-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane helped India survive an early onslaught from Joe Root’s England.

Coming to bat after India lost KL Rahul early, Cheteshwar Pujara had to wither pressure from Mark Wood and James Anderson. It was an extremely slow start but his approach kept the England bowlers at bay. Playing 206 balls, he scored 45  at a crucial time and his 100-run 4th-wicket stand with Ajinkya Rahane steadied India.

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IND vs ENG 2nd Test: Cheteshwar Pujara in 2021: Match: 9, Innings: 16, Runs: 434, Avg: 28.93, Strike rate: 30.78, 50/100: 4/0.

That he has struggled over the last one year is clear from the above-mentioned statistics. On Sunday, it wasn’t smooth sailing either. He took 34 deliveries to open his account and that shows his struggle. In fact, in the last one year, his strike rate has dropped massively while the average has also tanked. That he has scored only four half-centuries since January 2021 in 16 innings tells you about his struggle.

IND vs ENG 2nd Test: Cheteshwar Pujara’s performance comparison

Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 0
Before 2021 79 132 8 5903 206* 47.60 12886 45.80 18 25 8
Since Jan 1 2021 9 16 1 434 77 28.93 1410 30.78 0 4 1

 

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On Sunday, he struggled again. Pujara could not open his account until the 35th delivery and could only score 12 runs off the first 100 balls he faced. But he knew Suryakumar Yadav was waiting for his chance and he had to come good. Otherwise, he could have been shown the door in the 3rd Test at Leeds. He played as if it was his last Test innings.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s resilient approach got him to 45 but a short ball from Mark Wood sent him, falling five runs short. But his partnership with Ajinkya Rahane helped India rebuild after KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli all had returned to the pavilion before lunch.

IND vs ENG 2nd Test: Did Cheteshwar Pujara’s slow knock cost India a win?

However, questions will be raised on his ultra-defensive approach. If India had scored 300 on Day 4, India had a full day to bowl out Joe Root’s England. Cheteshwar Pujara will still be wary of his place in the Playing XI especially with KL Rahul in great form and Suryakumar Yadav called up for the Test series.

As Virat Kohli wants to win the series, rather than his ultra-defensive approach, India will need someone to score quick runs before Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja come in and go hammer and tongs on the bowlers.

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