As India take the flight to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, the focus will be on Cheteshwar Pujara, apart from skipper Virat Kohli.
Winners of the last edition of the World Cup and Champions Trophy, India have run into rough weather and are battling confidence issues after the battering in South Africa and New Zealand.
The 2015 World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand, conditions which require batting technique to play the moving and bouncing ball, but equally important will be the role of a player who can hold the innings together. So far given a cold shoulder, its being felt that Pujara can play the role for India. He has the game to complement the stroke-makers in the side.
In Bangladesh, it should be about settling into the combination as the conditions will be ideal for batting. The team management will be looking to groom him for the bigger assignment in 2015 in Australia where he will be needed to perform the sheet-anchor's role.
Batting at the top order was the easiest thing in limited-overs cricket but the two new-ball rule has made the teams change their gameplans. It has brought players in the mould of Rahul Dravid back in fashion and it is here that Pujara fits in the scheme of things.
The 26-year-old plays the spinners and seamers equally well. His game is about rotating the strike at the start and then opening up with the passage of play. Pujara has the ability to shift gears without playing the ball in the air as he can be savage in his driving and cutting.
"Pujara's strength is his mental toughness and technique. India's batting line-up will be richer with his presence. His ability to play against the moving ball will be a great asset," said former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar.
The first step will be about deciding on his batting position. Pujara has played two One-dayers and both under Virat Kohli in Zimbabwe. He was made to open the innings but couldn't get going. "I think he should ideally bat at No 3. I feel he can anchor the innings from that position," opined Vengsarkar.
Pujara's challenge will be fielding, He is not the most agile of players in the outfield. If he can lift his game in this department, his integration in the One-day side will be easier.
The number will suit him because while not exposing him to the new ball, it will allow him time to settle down and go for the long innings. While the likes of Virat, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan would be the ones who would be setting the pace, India will be looking to Pujara to give the opposition the slow death.
(With inputs from Kushal Phatarphekar)