Indian opener Rohit Sharma has come out in defense of his teammate Cheteshwar Pujara after the latter came under criticism for his form slump in Tests.
Pujara has failed to replicate his heroics against Australia in the ongoing tour of England. But the red-ball specialist returned to form in the third Test when India needed a savior.
“You are talking about a guy who has played 80-odd Test matches. I don’t think anything needs to be shown (old videos of his batting) before the game,” Sharma said. “Of course, there is a time to do all of that. But once you are playing a Test, you don’t want to get too much into details about what you are doing and what you want to.”
Pujara is unbeaten at 91* alongside his captain Virat Kohli (45*).
The partnership has propelled India to 215/2, a massive total so far as compared to their 78-run play in the first innings of the game.
Sharma hailed Pujara for his discipline and how the batter has helped the team in dire times in the past.
“The way he got off the mark and then carried on from there, anything loose, he was ready to pounce on it. It shows that he had intent in his batting and that really helps. When you have that sort of intent, any loose deliveries will not be spared. With Pujara, we have seen it over the years, he is a very disciplined batsman,” the MI captain explained.
The visitors still trail by 139 runs, but they have made a staggering recovery with the help of the Kohli-Pujara duo.
Rohit Sharma feels that Pujara was out of form, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have what it takes to make it big for the right-handed Test cricketer.
“Yes, of late the runs haven’t come. But that doesn’t mean that the quality of Pujara has gone missing. The quality has always been there and you must have seen it today,” he said.
There’s no doubt that India’s response with the bat in the second innings has been unpredictable. With overcast conditions, it was expected that the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Craig Overton will topple the Indian batting line-up sooner, just like the first innings’ outcome.
However, the visitors lived up to their abilities and responded with gritty knocks.
Commenting on the way Pujara carried himself in the middle, Sharma highlighted that it was a good job considering the match conditions.
“The way he batted, it was not the easiest of situations to go in and bat when you are 300 runs behind. To bat the way he batted shows the character of the individual,” Sharma said.
“Somebody who has gone everywhere and scored runs. From his perspective, he batted really well. But again, the team’s job is not done yet. We have got a crucial couple of days coming up. Hopefully, he can put his head down and keep batting as he does.”