'Shubman Gill will learn, but Pujara…': Ravi Shastri blasts India's 100-Test veteran for 'not knowing his off-stump'
Ravi Shastri opined that Gill making the mistake is understandable, but to see a 100-Test veteran Pujara not knowing where his off stump is hugely disappointing
For the second straight day, India were second-best to Australia in the World Test Championship final. If on Day 1, India's bowlers cut a sorry figure, Day 2 belonged to the batters. Once again, in a big-match ICC final, India's top-order was shredded with Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli failing to deliver when it was needed the most. Not one of India's top four could cross 20 in a heart-sinking start to the innings and hence, despite some middle-order repair by Ravindra, India find themselves looking down the barrel at 151/5, trailing Australia by a massive 318 runs with three days to go.
While credit belongs to the Australian bowlers for keeping it tight, a couple of Indian wickets – that was Gill and Pujara – were simply owed to some woeful shot selection. Both batters shouldered arms to deliveries that knocked their stumps. Gill was undone by a ball that darted back in from Scott Boland, and Pujara followed it with his dismissal in what was a spitting image of his young India teammate. Shouldering arms to a delivery that held its line, the decision to leave the ball left Pujara and India in shambles.
The wicket was very unlike Pujara as he is known to be someone who knows where his off-stump is. For someone who has been on three full-time tours of England and has enjoyed reasonable success there, the sight of Pujara playing all over that delivery made for a pretty abject viewing, so much so that Ravi Shastri went no-holds-barred in his criticism of India's veteran No. 3 batter.
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"That is leaving it poorly because the front foot has just gone across. It should be going towards the ball; he was looking to play it and then decided whether he should leave it. You see, the way he is leaving it, the off-stump is exposed. The front foot is still middle stump when it's actually going towards off stump. Watch that front foot. It should be further across and towards the ball. He thought it was outside the off stump. It was an error in judgment," Shastri said on air.
What was more disheartening to see was the fact that this was the same pitch where Pujara has scored truckloads of runs while playing for Surrey in County Championship over the last two years. In fact, even last year when India played the rescheduled fifth Test of the 2021 series against England at Edgbaston, Pujara was picked for his Surrey experience. He had disappointed there too and now here again at The Oval. Shastri opined that Gill making the mistake is understandable as it's still early days for the youngster, but to see a 100-Test veteran Pujara not knowing where his off stump is a huge dejection in itself.
"We talk about leaving the ball in England and we always talk about knowing where your off stump is. This is not knowing where your off stump is. See, Shubman Gill being a little lazy with his footwork. He will learn; he is still young, but Pujara will be very disappointing seeing that. It should have been a little further towards the ball and across the line of the ball. That's why they keep telling you - know where your off stump is," added the former India coach.