Gautam Gambhir believes Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara is way more consistent than Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan but unfortunately does not get the accolades he is entitled to. The Delhi cricketer also suggested that focusing on one format has helped Pujara excel in the red-ball format.
Cheteshwar Pujara became India's best Test batsman in the world climbing to a career-high ranking of number three after scoring two back-to-back centuries against Sri Lanka in the ongoing Test series in the Island nation. The Saurashtra batsman scored 153 runs in the opening Test at Galle and followed it up with a sensational 133-run in the second Test which India won by a margin of an innings and 53 runs to seal the series in their favour.
“That’s the unfortunate thing. We don’t give too much importance to Test cricket, and that is the reason. It is all about white-ball cricket and what people do in ODIs and T20s. But yes, when it comes to red-ball cricket, he (Pujara) is right at the top. Maybe far more consistent than Kohli or Dhawan,” the Delhi left-hander told DNA.
One thing that is worth noting in Pujara's case is that the 29-year old doesn't have a spot in the Indian ODI or T20 team which has earned him the tag of a Test specialist. Gambhir noted the fact and elaborated how it has helped the Saurashtra batsman.
“One thing which is really important to note is that he is playing only one form of the game. He can actually keep his mind pretty stable while playing and preparing only for five-day cricket. Had he been playing One-Dayers and T20Is as well, it would have been much more difficult for him, because sometimes you have to change your mindset. When you’re not scoring runs in One-Day cricket, you go into a Test series not with the same confidence. But when you’re playing just one format, it is easier to be consistent than someone who is playing all three formats.
“He’s a quality player, no doubt about that, but playing only one format definitely goes in his favour. And also playing County cricket ensures that his focus is always on red-ball cricket,” said Gambhir
When the whole country was focused on the Indian Premier League, Pujara was sharpening his batting skills on tricky English wickets while playing County cricket with Nottinghamshire. Gambhir believes Pujara's stint in England has helped him shine in Test cricket.
“It keeps you in that frame of mind of playing four-day cricket and red-ball cricket as well, which is of a lot of help when you go into a Test match. You don’t get enough red-ball cricket in India, especially when the IPL (Indian Premier League) is on. And, India
In the first Test at Galle, Hardik Pandya marked his Test debut with a half-century from just 49 balls, in a performance that drew praise from his skipper as Kohli appreciated his contribution and felt the young player can do what Ben Stokes does for England. However, Gambhir feels that there is still a long way to go for the Mumbai Indians all-rounder before he can be considered as one of the best all-rounders in world cricket.
“Look, he's got to improve a lot, especially when it comes to his batting. You can't just play one way. At the moment, he can do that because you have your top three and four scoring runs for you. So, you have the platform to go out there and play the way you want to. But ultimately, you have to tighten your technique because the moment you lose two-three wickets early, with him batting at No. 6 or 7, he has to have a little bit of solidity.
“At the moment, according to me, he's not there yet. He needs to work a lot on his technical side. Maybe he can be an attacking option, but at the same