Pujara should not be viewed as a Test specialist

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 05, 2014 05:20 hrs

​With the dismal ODI series done and dusted, India have a chance to make amends in the two-Test match series which gets underway in Auckland tomorrow. To do that, though, it’s important that they learn from the lessons in South Africa and be ready to pounce on the chances that come their way. They failed to do this in the first Test against the Proteas recently in Johannesburg where a glorious opportunity to win the match was squandered.

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Looking at the trend these days, all teams seem to play with a different level of confidence on their own turf. The Ashes is a classic example of this theory. England ran out comfortable 3-0 victors against Australia in England only for the Aussies to come roaring back and annihilate their rivals 5-0 in the return series Down Under just a few months later.

It surely isn’t a case of teams going from good to bad overnight but more to do with teams seizing the opportunity with greater success when they are home than away. Therefore, India and skipper Dhoni, need to be a lot sharper on the field to make the most of the opportunities that do arise during these two matches.

I expect India to go with the same tried and trusted combination they used in South Africa with ‘Zak’ spearheading the pace attack and just the one spinner. Whatever the setup, India needs to choose the personnel that gives them the best chance of taking 20 wickets.

And while the conditions are an influential factor, the tourists could even consider the idea of playing both Jadeja and Ashwin, especially since both have also come good with the bat in the last few games. India appear comfortable with the lone spinner theory in overseas Tests, and much has been made of Ashwin’s performances outside India. But I can safely say from experience that having a spinner at the other end makes a big difference as pressure is then applied at both ends.

It wasn’t surprising to hear Anton Devcich, the skipper of the New Zealand XI side that played the Indians in a warm up game, heap praise on Cheteshwar Pujara. It’s high time Pujara becomes a regular member of the Indian team rather than be viewed as just a Test specialist. Had he played the ODIs, it would have helped both him and the team especially with a short Test series to follow.

With the top order struggling for runs too, it’s placing too much pressure on Pujara’s shoulders to expect him to just go out there and score heavily without having the same number of matches under his belt as his fellow batsmen. Considering that the next World Cup is in Australia and New Zealand, it’s a move India need to seriously contemplate.

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