WTC Final: Cheteshwar Pujara's lack of runs a matter of concern for Team India
The flow of runs seems to have dried up, especially since the start of the World Test Championship. The Saurashtra batsman has scored just 818 runs in 17 Tests since August 2019 at a poor average of 29.21.
Virat Kohli is a captain who loves to back his players to the hilt. He has always maintained that the team management believes in sticking with players whom they think have the potential to deliver goods irrespective of the views from outside. He displayed the same positive attitude when addressing the media ahead of the team's departure for the tour of England, which will start with the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
One man whom, not just Kohli but even, fans and pundits consider one of the team's strongest links in Test cricket is Cheteshwar Pujara. India's number 3 batsman has been the rock in a batting line-up full of stroke makers. Pujara's presence provides a sense of calm in crisis situations and he often digs deep into his vast reserves of patience and perseverance to bail the team out.
Apart from taking the shine off the ball with his dour defence, Pujara has also scored big runs in his career, which have helped the team secure important victories over the years. In 85 Tests, Pujara has scored 6244 runs at an average of 46.59 with 18 centuries and 29 half-centuries under his belt.
But the flow of runs seems to have dried up, especially since the start of the World Test Championship. The Saurashtra batsman has scored just 818 runs in 17 Tests since August 2019 at a poor average of 29.21.
In this period he has not scored a single century, and has passed the 50-run mark on 9 occasions in the 28 innings he has played.
These are worrying numbers for a player whom the team depends on for runs. For India to do well in the WTC final and on the tour of England, they would need runs from Pujara's bat along with his solid presence in the middle.
Virat Kohli hasn't been able to play those characteristic big knocks in a while now and that puts the pressure on Pujara, India's second most consistent Test batsman after Kohli in the past decade, to come good.
Irrespective of his numbers, an Indian Test XI can't be imagined without Pujara in it because of the value he brings in as a 'true-blue' Test batsman. The time is ripe for him to get some big runs under his belt as that would also help him improve his equally disappointing numbers in Test matches in England.
Pujara averages 29.41 with just 500 runs from 9 Tests in England and India would want their number 3 change those numbers for the good on this tour.