'There are players who can push him out of the XI': Legendary India all-rounder gives his verdict on 'struggling' Pujara

Updated on Dec 28, 2021 05:31 PM IST

A legendary India all-rounder has no doubts that Cheteshwar Pujara is struggling, and believes there are players in the squad capable of pushing him out of the Playing XI.

Cheteshwar Pujara walks back after getting dismissed for a golden duck. (Reuters)
Cheteshwar Pujara walks back after getting dismissed for a golden duck. (Reuters)
By, New Delhi

On Sunday, Day 1 of the first Test between India and South Africa, Cheteshwar Pujara recorded an unwanted record. Enduring a golden duck for the second time in his career, Pujara has now recorded the most number of ducks by an India batter at No. 3, leaving behind Dilip Vengsarkar. Pujara fell to a soft dismissal, inside edging a ball from Lungi Ngidi for it to lob in the air and be safely pouched by the fielder.

This dismissal is the perfect example summing up Pujara's struggles. While the centuries and fifties have dried up, the ducks have increased, and with it, the India No. 3's confidence appears shaken too. If the runs don't come soon, it could soon be curtains for Pujara, especially with talented and impressive youngsters waiting in the wings and breathing down his neck.

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Legendary India all-rounder Madan Lal, has no doubts that Pujara is struggling, and believes there are players in the squad capable of pushing him out of the Playing XI. Shreyas Iyer scored a century on India debut earlier this month against New Zealand, while Hanuma Vihari has the experience of playing in South Africa against its A side not too long ago. Deciphering Pujara's approach, Lal feels the batter isn't at all looking assured.

"Pujara is struggling. There is no two ways about it. There are players in the squad who can push him out of the XI. At No. 3, even the captain needs a player you can hold the innings and get some runs at the same time. At times, Pujara gets stuck way too much. So clearly, he is struggling," Lal said on India Today.

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Lal weighed in on Ajinkya Rahane and his start in the Centurion Test, saying the batter should convert it into a substantial score. Rahane is unbeaten on 40 off 81 balls, striking eight boundaries, and Lal reckons there can't be a better opportunity that this for Rahane to get himself out of a rut.

"Ajinkya Rahane should get runs because Indian team needs a batter like him in the middle order. He is technically sound. And when he scores runs, he will have that confidence. Going forward, if some player goes out of form, you need a player who gives you that solidity in the middle order," added Lal.

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