Virat Kohli has rallied behind fellow batsman Cheteshwar Pujara ahead of the first India-England Test on Wednesday. The Indian skipper labeled criticism over Pujara’s slow batting ‘unnecessary’, saying that the Test specialist does not care while the team has also given him space to introspect his technique.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s form has been a vexing issue for India of late. Since scoring three hundreds in the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he has averaged 28.03 in 18 Tests. The 33-year-old has chipped in with crucial half-centuries but, apart from that, has shown a propensity to falter after consuming a good number of deliveries.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s been going on for a while and I honestly feel a player of his caliber and his experience should be left alone. And the responsibility is absolutely with the individual to figure out the drawbacks in his game that he needs to work on. Similarly with me or any other player in the team, we are very responsible and aware of the things we need to do for the benefit of the team. So, again, from the outside I can say that yes the criticism is unnecessary but I know for a fact that Pujara does not care,” Virat Kohli said in the pre-match press conference.
“Criticism is only as relevant as you want it to be. People can say what they want to on the outside. There are just words at the end of the day if you feel like they need not hold any value to you, you just carry on, walk on your path and not give attention to them,” Virat Kohli added.
India and England will play five Tests in the series. The first will be hosted by Trent Bridge, a ground where Cheteshwar Pujara has scored two half-centuries and averages the best (44.75) at among all other English grounds. Overall, Pujara has accrued over 523 runs in England at 27.53.
Virat Kohli and Co. to play five Tests in England
While Pujara will look to improve on those numbers to save his spot in the playing XI, the series is equally important for Virat Kohli. The skipper will look to shrug off the defeat in the World Test Championship final and start the second cycle on a good note.
1st Test: August 4-8, Trent Bridge, 3:30 PM IST
2nd Test: August 12-16, Lord’s, 3:30 PM IST
3rd Test: August 25-29, Headingly, 3:30 PM IST
4th Test: September 2-6, Kennington Oval, 3:30 PM IST
5th Test: September 10-14, Old Trafford, 3:30 PM IST