Barely 24 hours after losing his place in the Indian Test squad for the West Indies tour, Cheteshwar Pujara hit the nets at his father Arvind’s academy on the outskirts of Rajkot.
Making a comeback is tough at 35 but Pujara is not one to lose heart. Not one to sulk at being sidelined for the upcoming two-Test series in the West Indies, the doughty No.3 batter hit the ground running and batted for some time showing immense concentration and dedication.
Pujara uploaded a nine-minute video clip of him at nets and playing a few shots.
Pujara was subjected to harsh criticism after his underwhelming performance in the World Test Championship final at The Oval.
He has shown steely resolve in the past to bounce back from setbacks. There is wide speculation that the 103-Test veteran may have played his last Test but Pujara is not losing focus.
Pujara’s father and coach Arvind said his son can make a comeback to the national side and has already started his preparation for the Duleep Trophy. Pujara and Suryakumar Yadav have replaced Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal, who have been chosen for the Test tour of the West Indies.
“He (Cheteshwar) is mentally very strong. I can’t comment about selection. But from what I have seen, he is batting at his best. In fact, he was working hard in the nets the same day post the West Indies team announcement,” Arvind said. “He has started preparing for the Duleep Trophy and will continue playing on the county circuit. As a father and coach, there is no reason for me to believe why he can’t come back.”
After Pujara’s omission, legends such as Sunil Gavaskar slammed the selectors for their decision. Gavaskar had said Pujara had been made a “scapegoat” for his failure in the WTC final when others too haven’t fared well.
Pujara’s numbers have dipped after the pandemic. Before 2020, his average was within touching distance of 50 in 75 Tests. In the last 28 Tests though he’s averaged 29.69. Virat Kohli’s average during the same period, across 25 Tests, is identical.