Patient Pujara earns praise
Monty Panesar acknowledged similarities between Cheteshwar Pujara and the legendary Rahul Dravid, but believes India’s new number three is likely to find life much tougher when the Test series with England gets under way.
In compiling 87 from 184 balls, Pujara was largely responsible for frustrating England as Mumbai A - replying to 345 for nine declared - reached 232 for four on day two of the tour match at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy. Hiken Shah added 84 not out.
Panesar eventually had Pujara caught at slip by James Anderson, the same fielder having put down a similar chance when the batsman was on 22.
England’s left-arm spinner then considered similarities between today’s rival and Dravid, who brought an end to his distinguished 164-Test career in March.
“It’s not quite the same, but I guess I can see where you’re coming from,” reasoned Panesar.
“He (Pujara) accumulates his runs; he’s not going to come after the attack and just plays a patient game.
“He’s a very patient player, an organised cricketer.”
Panesar remains confident England will be able to find a chink in Pujara’s armour once the serious action begins in Ahmedabad on November 15.
“I think if there’s a little bit more pace in the pitch, he’s a little bit vulnerable early on - because of the extra carry,” the Sussex bowler added.
“They (Pujara and Shah) obviously played well, but the boys put in a good effort and we didn’t make it easy for them either.
“I thought as a unit the guys did really well today.”
A positive outlook was offered regarding the fitness of Steven Finn, who suffered a thigh strain against India A, prompting the call-up of Stuart Meaker as fast bowling cover.
“It’s not a major thing, which is really good for us, and we hope he can recover in time and be available for the first Test,” said Panesar.
However, England have been given further cause for concern, with Stuart Broad, stand-in skipper for this game in the absence of the rested Alastair Cook, set to undergo a scan on his left heel.
Pujara, for his part, was pleased to rise to the challenge after being given the opportunity to take an early look at England.
“I hadn’t faced many of England’s bowlers before, so it was important I got some practice before the Test series,” he explained.
“I was pretty comfortable, (but) it won’t be the same in the Test match, because I think the intensity will be higher.”