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India vs England: Sunil Gavaskar backs under-fire Cheteshwar Pujara, has this suggestion for India batsman

Mumbai, Aug 3: Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar believes India top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has thrown his weight behind underfire Cheteshwar Pujara and backed the way the right-handed batsman plays. Gavaskar, however, has suggested that the team management can explore other options as well if it feels Pujara's method isn't working anymore.

Known for his defence the ability to hold the fort, Pujara received a lot of flak for not being able to punish the bad deliveries in recent years, the latest being the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. Even during the home Test series against England, Pujara failed to live up to the expectations and failed to score big.

"Pujara has got to the international level playing in a certain way, he has got to trust that method. In case, the team doesn't trust that method, then they have to maybe look at bringing somebody else in," Gavaskar said during a virtual con-call on Monday (August 2).

The former captain added, "But this is a method that's worked for him, worked for India. He has held the fort at one end while the stroke players at the other end have been at liberty to play their shots knowing that there is a solid player at one end.

"I think he's got to believe in himself and carry on playing as he knows best because he has done a fantastic job for India over the years," he added. During the course of the two-year World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, Pujara failed to register a century and scored at an average of less than 30.

He'll be next seen in action during India's five-match Test series against England, which begins in Nottingham from Wednesday (August 4). With Shubman Gill ruled out due to an injury, Gavaskar backed KL Rahul to open the batting.

"I think with KL Rahul scoring a hundred in the three-day game, he should be the person that they should consider to open the batting. Mayank Agarwal has had an outstanding season in 2019 but on the last tour to Australia, he struggled a bit," Gavaskar said.

"Whereas with a hundred under his belt, I think Rahul will have lots of confidence. He is the person I would look at opening the batting, not having Pujara going up the order. "Also, don't forget, the last Test match that Rahul played in England (in 2018), he got a hundred at The Oval. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to look at Rahul as an opener ahead of Mayank," elaborated the former opener.

Gavaskar's remarks came before the BCCI announced that opener Agarwal, who was hit on the helmet by a Mohammed Siraj short ball, was ruled out of the first Test.

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 10:26 [IST]
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