WTC final: Dale Steyn highlights what went wrong for Cheteshwar Pujara against New Zealand

Pujara could only manage to score 8 and 15 runs respectively for India in the first and second innings.

Cheteshwar Pujara in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Jun 24, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Indian batter Cheteshwar Pujara did not have a particularly good outing at the ICC World Test Championship final. The match was played between India and New Zealand in the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England. The Kiwis were crowned world champions in the longest format of the game after a thumping eight-wicket win over Virat Kohli’s men on June 23. The match was extended by a day as rain and bad light played spoilsport for long periods during the original runtime of the fixture. Pujara could only manage to score 8 and 15 runs respectively for India in the first and second innings.

South African pacer Dale Steyn made an interesting observation in Pujara’s batting as he highlighted what might have gone wrong for the batter.

The pacer said he noticed how Pujara was watching the ball underneath his eyes before playing the shots. It was apparently same method that he had used during a series in which India had traveled to South Africa back in 2013.

The batter had scored an outsanding 153. Steyn was an integral part of South African side back then and Pujara had frustrated him and his teammates at the time.

The former Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer said that the batter was missing a few things that had previously worked for him.

“Out of my memory, I just remember Pujara playing great off his legs. Very, very good off his legs, and ball underneath the eyes. But I do remember him playing some magical cut shots and backfoot drives,” Steyn said on ESPNcricinfo on Thursday.

“Maybe on pitches that a little bit quicker – and Indian wickets are not quick – he played some beautiful balls underneath his eyes through the cover. It’s a part of the game that I feel he has lost.”

ISSUES WITH MOVEMENT of Cheteshwar Pujara

The bowler felt that Pujara had lost the movement onto his back foot. It was something Steyn reckons the batter used to excel at.

“That’s the thing I have seen lacking in Pujara. I’m so used to him rocking onto his backfoot and playing with his hands and good feet movement. He’s kind of lost that part of his game. And if you’re only hanging on the front foot, good bowlers will not bowl half-volleys to you.

“And you’ve got to turn good balls into good shots. That’s the difference between Test cricket and First-Class cricket. He’s missing out on a lot of runs there,” the South African added.

As per the situation of the match at the time, Pujara’s dismissal had similar aftermaths in both innings. As soon as the Test cricket specialist was dismissed, there followed a horrendous batting collapse.

The batter could have gotten a big score as he had enough time to get his eye in. He faced over 50 deliveries in both before being dismissed.

Pujara is currently going through an extremely rough patch of form. He has not been able to score a half-century in seven innings now.

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