Pujara finds batting zen, and more

Key points from Border-Gavaskar trophy 2017- 

Australia surpass expectations

Not many people gave Australia a chance when they arrived on Indian shores. Ricky Ponting said if Ausatrlia can show fight in India that will be more than sufficient while Saurav Ganguly expected a 4-0 whitewash in India’s favour. Rightly so, before this series Australia had lost 9 straight tests in subcontinent – which surely does not inspire much confident. But Australia brought their ‘A’ game to surpass many expectations. In Pune they routed India on a rank turner courtesy Steven Smith tour de force and SOK 12-70 to win their first game in India since 2004. Even after loss in Bangalore they held up their head high. In Ranchi when defeat looked inevitable, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh resuscitated Australian innings to earn a hard fought draw. For a team, whose most players were playing in India for first time, Australia showed a lot of gritty fight along with restraint to comeback from any situation, while more experienced teams have crumbled as we saw with Alastair Cook led England. In the end a mere one session was difference between India and Australia.

KL Rahul grows in stature 

Before the start of this series KL Rahul had scored 807 runs at an average of 38.42 with 4 100s and 1 50. This highlighted his inconsistency with bat which is harmful for team, as an opener is expected to see-off new ball in order to make run scoring relatively easier for middle order batsmen. Now, after the end of Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Rahul average has escalated to 44.44 i.e an increase of 6.02 runs per match. In this series KL Rahul scored 6 50+ scores. He didn’t get the hundred for which he is known for but all these 50+ scores helped India to lay a strong platform.  All four games were played on four highly different pitches – symbolizes – Rahul easy-to-adapt technique. In Pune and Bangalore he encountered spin and variable bounce. Dharamsala was pacy and bouncy where he scored 2 50s, bodes well for him when he tours abroad.

Pujara finds batting zen 

Last year in West Indies, Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped mid series owing to low strike rate. One year prior to aforementioned West Indies tour, Pujara was also not part of Indian playing line up, that time due to lack of form. Earlier this season after scoring heavily in Duleep Trophy, Pujara made (a kind of) comeback against New Zealand. He responded with 2 half-centuries in 2 matches and in 3rd he slammed a hundred – which was quickest of his career as India was in pursue of quick runs. Pujara made a statement, if required he can change his batting gears as per teams requirement.

Against England, Pujara started with 2 100s but towards the end of series his form again dipped. Two issues were palpable. a) Difficulty to play bouncer and, b) uneasiness against in coming deliveries. Now, after the end of the India-Australia duel, Pujara’s both issues have been solved and he has earned the tag “priceless player” by Virat Kohli. In Pune, when ball was turning square it was Pujara who looked the most assured player from Indian team. In 2nd test he batted pugnaciously to score 92 runs during which he stitched a series defining partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. In Ranchi, he combated Pat Cummins bouncers and Josh Hazlewood reverse (or in) swing to score his 3rd double hundred. Now, he is in rare zone where batsman plays all his shots on basis of instincts, a zone in which batsman mind instructs his hand. Its shame that we will now not see Pujara bat till September as he neither plays IPL nor ODI’s for India.

This article was first published on CRICKET MONOGRAPHS.

Prateek writes at cricket-monograph.blogspot.in.  @CricketPrateek

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