Cheteshwar Pujara is a rare breed among modern-day players. He is an out-and-out Test batsman who makes headlines only when India are playing Test matches and then merges into the background once the match gets over, going back to fine-tuning his technique.
Pujara is not part of the IPL or India’s limited overs set-up. This year, he signed up for Yorkshire in what was yet another stint in county cricket. The Indian management was more than happy to see Pujara, along with Ishant Sharma, get a taste of conditions in England ahead of the five-match Test series in the country that begins in August. Captain Virat Kohli was supposed to join them in the county circuit but a back injury stopped that from happening.
However, four-day cricket in England did not turn out the way he had anticipated. Pujara failed to score a single fifty in four county matches for Yorkshire, sending alarm bells ringing in the Indian set-up as the Saurashtra batsman is one of the few certainties when it comes to Indian Test batting.
With Kohli injured and other Test batsmen not at their peak, Pujara’s form was worrisome.
#Pujara is excelling in ODI's in English condition. That is more important than hitting sixes in flat tracks and failing in foreign condition.— Sunil Menon (@imsunkrish) May 29, 2018
Then, something unexpected happened. The 30-year-old smashed three fifties and a century in consecutive innings in the one-day tournament for Yorkshire. The change of format worked wonders as Pujara piled on unheard of numbers in white ball cricket.
While it is highly unlikely Pujara will ever make it back to the Indian limited overs side, his runs in 50-over cricket can benefit his Test form when the England series starts. How, you ask?
JUST LOOK AT JOS
England’s Jos Buttler just did it. Here is a batsman who was picked for the Pakistan Test series purely on his IPL form despite being out of the Test team for 18 months and no first-class record to speak of. But the England selectors saw a distinct confidence in his batting which could be replicated in the Test arena. Buttler did that, hitting an unbeaten 80 in a winning cause in the second Test.
Pujara is an established Test batsman who doesn’t need white ball runs to feel good about himself. Even so, four straight substantial innings in conditions you will be tested in two months down the line are like gold dust. The team management wants Indian Test specialists to get as much confidence under the belt as they can before the England series, and ideally in English conditions.
Pujara will be filling like a million dollars and with the stakes so high for the Indian team, every little bit helps.
The Mumbai Indians skipper was in Seattle on Sunday night where he became the first Indian cricketer to throw a ‘ceremonial pitch’ in Major League Baseball (MLB).
The India limited-overs deputy skipper threw the ceremonial pitch at the Safeco field ahead of the clash between Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays.
The 31-year-old was accompanied by his wife Ritika Sajdeh for the special event. Taking to Twitter after doing the honours, Rohit wrote: “Great fun throwing the first pitch for @Mariners with my lady by my side.”
The India star is currently in the USA for a three-city tour as part of the ‘Desh – Legends of Cricket’ series. This will see the Mumbai-born batsman visit Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to conduct a series of cricket clinics along with fan meet and greets.
Indian cricketer @ImRo45 throwing the ceremonial ‘First pitch’ at a baseball game between the Seattle @Mariners and Tampa Bay @RaysBaseball, earlier today. #GoMariners @BCCI pic.twitter.com/yIm77kda1H— pH (@turmerictown) June 3, 2018
The ceremonial first pitch in MLB is usually thrown by a special guest of honour. As for Rohit’s pitching skills, the Indian cricket was way wide off his mark with the catcher failing to collect the ball.
The Mumbai Indians star was not picked for India’s upcoming one-off Test against Afghanistan which will get underway at Bengaluru on June 14. Rohit had a miserable time in the IPL this year, scoring just 286 runs from 14 matches with defending champions Mumbai Indians unable to make it to the play-offs.
Most cricket fans have seen Sudhir Gautam – a skinny Indian cricket fan who paints his body in national colours – waving the tricolour flag whenever India is in action.
Sudhir is a die-hard Sachin Tendulkar fan and travels with the Indian cricket wherever they play. On Friday though, he was in for a treat.
The cricket fanatic was hosted for lunch but former India skipper MS Dhoni.
An ecstatic Sudhir posted a message on Twitter along with pictures of Dhoni and his family at the wicketkeeper batsman’s farmhouse.
Special Day with Captain Cool @msdhoni, Super Lunch with Super Family at Farm House. Words can’t describe the moments spent. Thank You MS Dhoni and Sakshi Di @SaakshiSRawat. Captain Relaxed after winning #IPL2018 @ChennaiIPL. pic.twitter.com/qZHjGm9KCR
— Sudhir Kumar Gautam (@Sudhir10dulkar) June 1, 2018
Dhoni is in his hometown of Ranchi after leading the Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL trophy.
He will be returning to the Indian team when they face Ireland in a two-match T20I series that begins June 27.
The 36-year old will then travel with the squad for the tour to England for three T20Is and three ODIs.