Cheteshwar Pujara’s batting was one of the topics of discussion after India suffered another collapse to fall well behind in the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
After skipper Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat first, it was a 27th Test century by Steve Smith that powered the hosts to a total of 338. In reply, India got an opening stand of 70 runs, with Shubman Gill getting his first half-century, and reached 195/4 before losing their last six wickets for 49 runs.
The other half-centurion for the visitors was Cheteshwar Pujara (50 off 176) but despite the runs he got, questions were raised in commentary and on social media about his strike-rate.
The India No 3 has drawn flak in the past as well for his scoring rate, with many arguing that his approach puts pressure on his partners and hands momentum to the opposition. In his latest knock at the SCG, it took him 100 deliveries to get 16 runs. His strike-rate of 28.41 was the lowest among the seven Indian players who managed to get double-digit scores.
“I don’t think it was the right approach, I think he needed to be a bit more proactive with his scoring rate because I felt it was putting too much pressure on his batting partners,” former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said on Twitter.
However, there is another side to this with many believing Pujara’s strike-rate is not an issue. The argument is: he does an important job for his team by holding fort at one end, Test matches these days struggle to reach the fifth day anyway so strike-rate shouldn’t be an issue, and the other batters must take more responsibility of accumulating the runs.
We, at Scroll.in, asked our readers on Twitter what they thought about Pujara’s approach to batting and his role in the Indian team.
First up, here are the comments from The Field’s staff:
Ashish Magotra: Take time getting set by all means but then move the game forward. India regularly fail to do that away from home – and Kohli has spoken about it many times. Pujara is at the heart of that problem.
Vinayakk Mohanarangan: Here’s what I don’t get when Pujara is being criticised: matches don’t go into 5th day typically, India’s batting collapses at the end invariably. Time is not a factor, surely? The key I think is for each of the Indian batsmen to play to their strengths and collectively clicking. Also, sincerely hope Pujara is staying away from all forms of social media in the short term at least because I get the feeling India could really use a 175-ball 50 in the second innings from him.
Here’s a selection of the responses to the issue:
@shankarstake: Pujara’s issue is when he gets bogged down, he does not know how to get out of the rut. He doesn’t have a release shot. Yesterday, Rohit Sharma was 11 off 43. He hit a six off Lyon to release the pressure. Defensive batting is fine, bogging down and playing like that isn’t. So to answer your question: His strike-rate keeps going down since he does not know how to pick it up in any way. The criticism he should get is for that, not for being slow.
@chetannarula: Leave him alone. Please. Can’t keep talking about strike rate for each Pujara innings.
@KOCricket528: Seems a lot of unnecessary hate against him !!! He’s the joint top scorer of the innings and played pretty well. Rest of the line up collapses and then, Blame it all on Pujara and his Striker rate.
@AadityaN_28: The problem is that this arises after every innings that Pujara plays, home or away. The strike rate isn’t an issue, it never is in Test cricket. There are other issues with Pujara’s batting, but not that he is too slow.
@DillysTweets: You sometimes need to face more balls while playing on difficult surfaces. But the way he played here & elsewhere before doesn’t help the team. Once he gets set, needs to move the game forward. Che doesn’t do that many a times and then he gets out without finishing the job.
@NiacinDoc: He could have easily scored 20-30 more runs which would have reduced the lead.. but kept blocking and got out.
@zahirsm: No, Pujara is alright in his innings, then it’s the job of other batsmen to rotate the strike as long as Pujara is holding the fort from other end.
@arvindhmani: This. Is. His. Game. Having said that, without Kohli – often his batting partner in these tough tests – the middle order around him does not have the aggression to complement his measured approach.
@Rebecca001234: He needs to rotate strike otherwise he is putting lot of pressure on indian middle order , he could have easily score 20-30 runs by rotating the strike.
@Gulliverinreal: This attack consists of world class speedsters. You will get one unplayable delivery sooner rather than later. I think he doesn’t have the shots to rotate strike that hurts India’s cause. He ain’t Rahul Dravid, Rahul was a consummate stroke player.
@Mktimeforsports: If the other batters had scored some runs themselves, no one would complain.
@LambatNayan: Give credit to australian bowlers and move on.
@fraudballer: Pujara played how Pujara does. Against the best bowling attack in the world. If the rest could not play to their strength or make things count, what has Pujara got to do with any of it?
So, what is tour take on Cheteshwar Pujara’s strike-rate with the bat? Let us know your thoughts by writing to us on Twitter @thefield_in.