Former Indian all-rounder opines on Pujara's struggles Photograph:( AFP )
Former Indian all-rounder Madan Lal has opened up on Pujara's struggles and feels India have plenty of players to replace him, in the form of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, etc.
Team India posted 327 in the first innings of the ongoing Centurion Test versus South Africa in the Boxing Day encounter in the African nation. After Day 1 ended with India 272-3, the rest of the batting line-up didn't stand tall on Day 3 -- with the second day's play being washed out -- as the visitors fell for 327.
While KL Rahul top-scored with 123, Mayank Agarwal (60), Captain Virat Kohli (35) and Ajinkya Rahane (48) contributed as well. However, No. 3 batter Cheteshwar Pujara didn't impress as he fell for a golden duck. This was Pujara's second golden duck and third instance of not being able to open his account in the calendar year. In addition, his last international ton (i.e. in Tests as he only plays the purest format) came in early 2019. Hence, the right-hander is facing the heat due to ordinary performances with the bat.
Now, former Indian all-rounder Madan Lal has opened up on Pujara's struggles and feels India have plenty of players to replace him, in the form of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, etc. "Pujara is struggling. There is no two ways about it. There are players in the squad who can push him out of the XI. At No. 3, even the captain needs a player you can hold the innings and get some runs at the same time. At times, Pujara gets stuck way too much. So clearly, he is struggling," Lal said on India Today.
Recently, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt also called for Pujara's omission if he continues to under-perform once Rohit Sharma returns to the Test line-up. Butt told on his Youtube channel, "He (Pujara) is not in form now. So you have to replace him when Rohit Sharma returns because you cannot drop an in-form player. And I was never in favour of that move. They left out Shreyas Iyer despite that performance (against New Zealand). India have always backed their senior players, which is good, but Pujara needs to score runs."
Pujara will look to score runs in India's second essay in the first Test and the remainder of the series to hold onto his spot amid widespread criticism.