August 8, 2018 / 6:01 AM / 6 days ago

Cricket - Clamour grows for Pujara's inclusion in Lord's test

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Cheteshwar Pujara’s ability to wear down bowlers with his obdurate defence should earn him a place in India’s playing XI for the second test against England, according to several former players.

Cricket - India v South Africa - First Test cricket match - Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - January 6, 2018. India's Cheteshwar Pujara reacts. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

Skipper Virat Kohli’s sublime display in the series opener failed to gloss over India’s top order frailties with the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul making a combined 82 in their 31-run loss in the Edgbaston test.

Pujara may not have set alight county cricket with his Yorkshire stint but many believe the time he spent in the country gives him a distinct advantage over his team mates.

“When batsmen are struggling with the moving ball, it might be a good idea to induct Cheteshwar Pujara into the side,” former test player Mohinder Amarnath wrote in a column that appeared in Wednesday’s Times of India newspaper.

“I know he is not in great form but he has the ability to occupy the crease and just needs time in the middle to rediscover his touch,” added the 69-test veteran whose own gutsy batting remains an inspiration for the likes of Pujara.

His former team mate Sunil Gavaskar also sees sense in bringing back Pujara for the Lord’s test beginning on Thursday.

“I will play one more batsman at Lord’s in the form of Pujara,” Gavaskar told India Today television channel.

“He has the technique and patience required for a test match. Whose place he’ll take will depend on the pitch. If the wicket isn’t that green then I will play him in place of (pacer) Umesh Yadav and stay with (all-rounder) Hardik Pandya.”

India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun appeared sceptic of the move to play an extra batsman in the second test despite the poor batting display in the series opener.

“Playing an extra batsman here, I would consider that as a very conservative move,” Arun told reporters at Lord’s.

“Everything depends on the conditions. And if the conditions are not as friendly as it was during the first test it would make more sense to play five bowlers.”

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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