Cheteshwar Pujara, who was dropped from the Indian squad for the upcoming West Indies tour, had already started to prepare for his next challenge i.e. the Duleep Trophy on the same day and his father cum coach Arvind Pujara believes that the veteran can make a comeback to the national side again.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Arvind said, “He is mentally very strong. I can’t comment about selection. But from what I have seen, he is batting at his best. In fact he was working hard in the nets the same day post the WI team announcement. He has started preparing for the Duleep Trophy and will continue playing on the county circuit. As a father and coach, there is no reason for me to believe why he can’t comeback.”
Meanwhile, the 35-year-old on Saturday also uploaded a nine-minute video clip on Twitter of him batting in a ground and playing few shots.
After the recent WTC final thrashing, the selectors and the team management had been planning to start the transition with one spot at time as they want avoid a scenario where all the experienced batsmen are made to make way like it did after Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar retired between 2012-2013.
— Cheteshwar Pujara (@cheteshwar1) June 24, 2023
The change started with Pujara, who has struggled for consistency for the national side. Though the 35-year-old veteran of 102 Tests has been scoring heavily in the County circuit since the 2022 season, he hasn’t been able to replicate that form for India.
Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar was not happy with the decision and said, “Apart from (Ajinkya) Rahane, the batting completely failed. Why Pujara has been made the fall guy is something the selectors will have to explain,”
Gavaskar also took a dig at selectors, saying, “But because he does not have millions of followers on platforms who will make a noise in case he gets dropped, you drop him. That is something beyond understanding.”
Pujara has scored 928 runs ins the 2021-23 WTC cycle at an average of 32. Meanwhile, star batter Virat Kohli also produced almost the same numbers, scoring 932 runs at an average of 32.13 in the same period.
Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh too shared similar sentiments, saying, “Cheteshwar Pujara isn’t there, which makes me worried. He has been a big player for India. Hopefully, he’s also given a break and not dropped. Pujara is the backbone of this team. If you’re dropping him, then the averages of other batters haven’t been good either. The benchmarks should be same for all players, no matter how big a player you are.”
“If you don’t consider Pujara a key player… by that logic, others aren’t key players either. There shouldn’t be question marks about his career. India won series in Australia and led in England and wherever India played good, he has contributed efficiently. He hasn’t performed quite consistently in the past 1-1.5 years… but then have a look at other batters as well. Almost similar figures. So, to single him out isn’t right,” he added.
This has not been the first time Pujara has been dropped from India. He was excluded from the series against Sri Lanka in 2022. After impressing in the county circuit, he was once again recalled into the side against England in the same year.
Pujara has always made a strong comeback from the setback in the past and would be hoping to have a fruitful Duleep Trophy season to get back into contention once again.