The BCCI has revealed India’s Test squad for the West Indies tour, and there are notable exclusions. Fast bowlers Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav, who participated in the World Test Championship final, are absent. Along with them, veteran batter Cheteshwar Pujara has also been dropped.
Shami is reportedly rested, while Umesh is recovering from an injury. The selected squad consists of players such as Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan as wicket-keepers, along with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, and Navdeep Saini.
One notable absence in the batting department is Cheteshwar Pujara, a veteran of 103 Tests known for his average of 43.6 and 19 centuries.
Pujara has struggled with poor form, averaging less than 30 since 2020. However, despite being 35 years old and lacking agility in the field, Pujara is determined to make a comeback.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the Indian Test team.
There are three reasons why Cheteshwar Pujara is likely to stage a comeback
Firstly, he is primarily focused on red-ball cricket and actively participates in domestic competitions and overseas leagues like the County Championship. Pujara’s commitment to the longer format makes him a valuable asset against spin, particularly in home conditions.
2. No Solid Replacements
Secondly, India lacks suitable replacements for the No. 3 position, which Cheteshwar Pujara has held for the past decade. Young players like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Shubman Gill are generally openers or top-order batsmen.
Moving established players like Kohli, Rahane, or Jadeja from their preferred positions is another option, but finding a reliable No. 3 batsman remains a challenge.
3 Poor Choice of Selection
Finally, the selectors’ decisions have been inconsistent in recent years. The composition of the current selection committee is uncertain, as Chetan Sharma was sacked, reinstated, and then sacked again.
Their choices have often been unpredictable, as seen with Ajinkya Rahane’s dropping and subsequent recall for the WTC final. The selectors’ indecisiveness suggests that Pujara’s return cannot be ruled out despite the BCCI’s inclination to focus on the long-term future.
In conclusion, Cheteshwar Pujara’s dedication to red-ball cricket, India’s lack of No. 3 replacements, and the selectors’ fickle nature increase the likelihood of Pujara making a Test comeback after being excluded from the West Indies tour.