India vs England Test Series: Indian team think-tank mulling booting out Cheteshwar Pujara from Playing XI after dismal run

India Tour of England: Virat Kohli's Team India mulling booting out Cheteshwar Pujara from Playing XI in favour of KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari

India Tour of England – Cheteshwar Pujara: Team India’s embarrassing eight-wicket loss to New Zealand in ICC World Test Championship Final (WTC Final) is likely to lead Virat Kohli & Co to look for an overhaul in the Test side. And the first victim appears to be Cheteshwar Pujara. Considered the wall for India in Test cricket for the last couple of years, Pujara is likely to be booted out from the Indian playing XI – when India takes on England in the 1st test at Trent Bridge on 4th August.

India Tour of England – Cheteshwar Pujara: According to the information coming in from Indian team sources, Indian team management is unlikely to continue with dependency on Pujara as the No 3 batsman for the Indian Test team. The sources informed InsideSport that team management is currently deliberating to either give KL Rahul a permanent place in the middle order or Hanuma Vihari to take up the role of Pujara. Other than this, team management is also mulling to promote captain Virat Kohli at the No 3 position instead of his usual No 4 place in the batting order.

Also Read: WTC Final: 4 reasons that went wrong for Team India against New Zealand in the ultimate Test

India Tour of England: Why Pujara is likely to be booted out of Indian Playing XI for the England series? 

Pujara has been an important cog in Team India’s Test success. But following a dismal run of late including the WTC Final, the team management is considering booting out Pujara.

Prior to January 2020, Pujara was as important as Virat Kohli in the Indian Test’s playing XI. But the cracks have begun to appear since then. His dismal run has failed to provide India with solidity in the top-order. It has put extra pressure on Virat Kohli at No 4 and Ajinkya Rahane at No 5 to play well.

Also Read: WTC Final: Dale Steyn decodes reason behind Cheteshwar Pujara’s poor form in World Test Championship

A look at his recent stats will be enough to prove that Pujara is well past his prime.

In the last three series (since 2020), he has averaged 26.35 compared to 49.48 before that without scoring any centuries. Furthermore, his ultra-defensive approach has also become more evident during this time. Until 2019, Pujara’s strike rate was 46.69.

But since January 2020, his scoring rate has gone down to 30.20. The only meaningful innings during this period came against Australia in Sydney when he scored 77. These dismal stats are forcing skipper Virat Kohli & Ravi Shastri to have a rethink on Pujara’s utility in the Indian XI.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s dwindling batting records

  • No century in last 30 innings (Australia series in 2019)
  • Pujara is averaging 26.35 since January 2020
  • His ultra-defensive approach with a strike rate of 30.20 is giving oppositions more time to bounce back
  • 9 single-digit scores since last century

Also Read: Virat Kohli backs Team India despite WTC Final loss, says, ‘This isn’t just a team, it’s a family’

India Tour of England: Virat Kohli's Team India mulling booting out Cheteshwar Pujara from Playing XI in favour of KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari
“We will continue to reassess and continue to have conversations around what are the things required to strengthen our side and not follow or fall prey to certain patterns,”
 Virat Kohli said after the WTC Final loss against New Zealand.

India Tour of England: Pujara may lose his place to KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari?

With five-match Test series against England, beginning August 4 is set to be a new beginning of the next cycle, the team management is certain to find new options, even bring in fresh faces, if required. Two able batsmen — KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari — are already warming the bench in the Test side and the team management is planning to give them a chance instead of Cheteshwar Pujara in the Test series against England, beginning August 4.

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