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When the world ends, will Che Pujara still be batting?

by Naked Cricket

Che Pujara batted
And Che Pujara batted some more
And if that wasn't enough
Che Pujara batted some more still
Batted, batted, batted
For that's what Che Pujara does best.

He opened, he closed
He was a shopkeeper who was there
To put the Open sign
He was a shopkeeper who was there
To put the Closed sign

He batted on the first day,
Two fell before him
Rahul and Rahane
He batted
He batted with Virat
He batted till the rains came down
He batted till the covers came on

He batted on the second day
Mathews teased Virat outside off
Prasad teased Rohit outside off
He batted till lunch
Binny fell after lunch
He batted after lunch
He batted with Ojha
Ojha holed out
Prasad teased Ashwin outside off
Mishra came in
He batted till tea

He batted after tea
He batted to a 100
He batted to Mishra's 50
Mishra wandered off
He did not wander off
He batted till the rains came down
He batted till the covers came on

Che Pujara batted
And Che Pujara batted some more
And if that wasn't enough
Che Pujara batted some more still
Batted, batted, batted
For that's what Che Pujara does best.

He batted till stumps Day 2
After Gavaskar, Dravid and Sehwag batted
Che Pujara batted
He batted right through the innings
He batted right before the innings
He batted ten minutes before the innings
In the nets

Che Pujara was always there
Just that India wasn't there for him
He batted on bad days
He batted through form drops
He batted minutes adding to minutes
To make batting hours
Scrapping in foreign lands
Winning us Lord's
To be dropped at Sydney
To be left out in Bangladesh
To be left out in Galle
To be left out in Colombo

To be left out for a lesser player
To be left out by lesser men
To be left out by talkers of aggression
Will you drop yourselves too?
When the bad patch comes calling again?
When Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped for Rohit Sharma, for the Sydney Test (Jan 6 - 10, 2015), I feared the worst for him, cricket obscurity. Batting at three - Pujara's position until then - Rohit scored a half century in a drawn Test. That picked Rohit for the next four Tests at least - one in Bangladesh, followed by three in Sri Lanka. However, injuries to the openers combined with Rohit's dodgy form at three tossed the batting order like it had been dumped into a Sumeet mixie.
The series locked at one-all, Shastri-Kohli's hand was forced and they hurled Pujara into the deep end, making him open the batting on a green top. If he fails, it will only vindicate their stand of leaving him out; if he comes off, they picked him, didn't they?
Ajinkya Rahane had already been tinkered with enough; pushing him from three to open was not an option, not now at least. And after Rohit's forgotten travails at three, no way they were going to make him open. So that left them with Pujara. Had one of the two openers been fit, there would not have been a Pujara comeback hundred.
When Pujara walked into open he would've been aware: he had been forgotten. No amount of runs in county cricket or for India A was going to change that. His time in the middle was mostly as 12th man or the drink's man. He was there at forward shot leg. He was only remembered by default.
In the past months and even today, Sunil Gavaskar has gone on about how slowly Pujara scores. He goes on to compare the virtues of fast scoring, that he nonchalantly attributes to Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and yes, the other day, to KL Rahul.
Dear Sunny, since you aren't tiring of saying the same stuff again and again, I won't either. Please compare the strike rates of the batsmen and then comment. You're on air, not on hot air, sir. Do not mix the limited overs format with Test cricket. Granted, Rohit is like a son to both you and Ravi, but it does get blatantly obvious, often cringe-worthy just to listen to you.
Yes, Pujara was batting against propaganda. He was up against, not a batsman, but a reputation, a prophecy, a talent. If Sunny wasn't enough, you had the Mumbai Indians' fielding coach, Jonty Rhodes parroting the virtues of "The Talent". These people are now doing Rohit more harm than good, wanting a player to succeed is one thing, but without realising, they're now taking the piss.
When India was at 135/5, Sunny said that a Pujara 50 wasn't going to cut it for him, only a "Big Hundred" - a 150, maybe a 200.
Then again, maybe Pujara wasn't batting against any of this. Maybe his mind was clear. Maybe all he saw was the ball. Maybe when he spoke of getting starts and not converting them into bigger scores, there was an acceptance to improve. He's made changes, standing further outside the crease, for one.
It's now up to Shastri and Kohli to make changes; they could start by accepting Pujara as a mainstay of the Test team, stop all that aggression and rhetoric please. Or is this part of a new pecking order, where everyone is expendable? Where anyone can be asked to bat anywhere? That could make for interesting times too, more so, if it holds true for the captain and the director and Rohit.
But start by living in the present, guys, and not what a player can or will do.
On August 30, 2015, Pujara became the fourth Indian to carry his bat through the innings. His 145 not out was his seventh Test century. His lowest score of 100 and more is 113. His other Test centuries are: 135, 153, 159, 204, 206*.

First published here

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