Cheteshwar Pujara’s form has gone downhill after the Australia series where he stood like a wall and took blows on his body for his country and ensured India won the series for the second time in a row.
Beating Australia once is difficult but India managed it twice. It is even more impressive this year as Australia had David Warner and Steven Smith back along with all their fast bowlers. Pujara defied the Aussie bowlers in Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon and held one end up and tired out, allowing the likes of Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant to attack them.
But since then, Pujara has lost his form and questions are being asked about his place in the team. After the Australia series, Pujara played four Test matches at home against England and managed just 133 runs at an average of 22 and in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand he had scores of just 8 and 15 in two innings. He did find some form in the England series by showing intent and scoring two half-centuries but a hundred has eluded him since January 2019.
Skipper Virat Kohli had backed Pujara and had said a player like Pujara should be left alone as he knows what his drawbacks are. His bad form has continued in the current series against New Zealand too, with scores of 26 and 22 in the first Test at Kanpur — and now the fans are asking for him to be replaced by Suryakumar Yadav, who has been waiting in the wings. No matter what Kohli says, the runs have dried up from the bat of the ‘Wall of India’ and cracks are appearing. It is time Pujara silences his critics in the second Test match at Mumbai before the big series against South Africa.