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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Cricket

Kohli, Pujara hold key to India's success in England
PTI
July 07, 2014
First Published: 10:30 IST(7/7/2014)
Last Updated: 10:33 IST(7/7/2014)

With a relatively inexperienced bowling attack at its disposal, India will be banking on its batsmen to get the team in position of strenghts and the spotlight especially will be on Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the forthcoming Test series against England.

The preparations have already begun in earnest for the five-Test series between the two teams starting in Nottingham on Wednesday.

And for Kohli and Pujara, the series will be an exceptional test of their batting skills in hostile conditions.

For long, Kohli and Pujara were deemed as the next best thing, the next Tendulkar-Dravid combination and the series in England will be their toughest test.

Kohli was a prime target for England when they visited India in 2012-13. The visitors set traps for him, fielders in position as soon as the young batsman tried to drive the ball on either side of the wicket.

As a result they were able to keep him quiet as Kohli garnered only 188 runs in that four-match series. But then he ground his way to a hundred in the last Test at Nagpur and labelled it 'a learning experience'.

There has been no looking back since for Kohli then as he has risen to stardom with his bat. His batting averages in two Tests each in South Africa and New Zealand, were 68 and 71.33 respectively and this is a straight pointer to his ever-growing stature.

Now in England, it goes without saying that the team needs an encore from Kohli.

Alternately, Pujara was very successful when he first played against England, also in the 2012-13 home series.

He was seemingly unstoppable, notching up 438 runs in four matches at an average of 87.60 with two hundreds (one of them a double-hundred at Mumbai).

Expectations grew thereafter and he seemed comfortable in South Africa, averaging 70 in two Tests. But his form in New Zealand (average 15 in two Tests) left a lot to be desired.

Looking to make amends, he has made a strong start to the tour so far, hitting two fifties in as many practice games in Leicester and Derby.


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