Broad burns India over Ranchi pitch strategy, asks if Pujara's career is over | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Stuart Broad burns India over Ranchi pitch strategy, asks if Pujara's career is over amid batting collapse vs England

Feb 24, 2024 07:56 PM IST

Stuart Broad asked India a couple of tough questions as they struggled to bat against England on Day 2 of the Ranchi Test.

England spinners, with Shoaib Bashir leading the way with his four-wicket haul, put the visitors in sight of a huge first-innings lead in Ranchi on Day 2 after India put on a below-par batting show. England began their day on a promising note after posting 353 runs in the first innings before Bashir and Tom Hartley picked six wickets between themselves to leave India tottering at 219 for seven. The score could have been even worse had it not been for a valiant 42-run stand between Dhruv Jurel and Kuldeep Yadav, who ensured that India still have a chance to make a comeback in the match.

Stuart Broad feels India should recall Cheteshwar Pujara for the 5th Test
Stuart Broad feels India should recall Cheteshwar Pujara for the 5th Test

Following the poor batting show from India, former England fast bowler Stuart Broad, who only retired last year, burned the hosts over their selection decision to leave out the very experienced Cheteshwar Pujara, a call taken amid the home team featuring an inexperienced batting line-up.

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India captain Rohit Sharma remains the only senior batter in the lineup as Virat Kohli is unavailable owing the birth of his second child while KL Rahul is out with an injury. In fact, in the absence of other veteran batters, India have been promoting Ravindra Jadeja at No. 5. However, barring Yashasvi Jaiswal, who put on a valiant show to score his fourth fifty-plus knock in the series en route to 73, the rest of the top six batters managed only 83 runs.

Amid the poor batting performance at home, Broad took to social media to question the absence of Pujara, who has been in impressive form in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, and indicated that he should be picked for the fifth match in Dharamsala.

"With the experience & world class talent of Kohli missing, would there have been temptation to bring back Pujara into this India batting line up? Or is his international career over? Feels like he could have brought some consistency and an anchor," he posted on X.

Broad also questioned India's strategy that went into preparing the Ranchi pitch, asking how much a turning surface can actually benefit a team that historically has performed well on slightly flatter decks. The Ranchi pitch already has assisted spinners a lot more Day 2 - as evident through India's total of 219/7 - than it did on the opening day on Friday, and with England clearly having the upper hand with a 134-run lead, Broad put his point forward.

"I mainly tweet about England- but looking at India. They're an amazing team on flat Test pitches in India where their spinners skill comes into it & they out bowl other teams. Playing on pitches that roll along the floor brings in the opposition so much more. I can't understand why they've prepared a pitch like this?" he posted.

Where is Pujara?

There were calls from veteran cricketers to pick Pujara ahead of the third Test in Rajkot amid Shubman Gill's faltering numbers in the format and Shreyas Iyer's poor run of form over the last 12 months, but the selectors ignored and rather invested in the likes of Sarfaraz Khan and Rajat Patidar. But while Sarfaraz made an impactful debut in Rajkot, scoring fifties in both the innings, Patidar managed only 63 runs in five innings so far, his highest knock being 32 in Vizag.

Pujara, who last played for India in the World Test Championship final in 2023, has been in ravishing form in the Ranji Trophy where he is the fourth-highest run-getter with 783 runs in 12 innings at 58.12. He scored three centuries and two fifties during his campaign for Saurashtra.

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