What can Kohli learn from Pujara?
Apart from the exception of Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, the two players in the current Indian Test team who are considered among the cream of the crop are Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Ahead of the other two in numbers, Pujara lags slightly behind Kohli. But Kohli might have a thing or two to learn from his teammate. Here's more.
Former world number 1 batsman Gautam Gambhir claimed that he rates Pujara ahead of the likes of Kohli and Rahane. Attributing it to Pujara restricting himself to playing plenty of red-ball cricket only, including county, Gambhir said that Kohli and BCCI may be ignoring the longer format and paying the price for it.
One specific aspect that sets Pujara apart from the pack is his tendency to leave balls. In the current era of ball-bashing T20s, this might be seen as a negative, but to survive and prosper in test cricket, this skill is a must. Kohli, with his firebrand aggressive batting, has yet to master this.
Pujara, similar to truly greats like Dravid, has a persistent tendency to stick at the crease. This gives him a lot of time to calm down, get used to the pitch as well as unnerve the bowlers. Even on his worst days, he can be depended on to do his job. Kohli lacks this attitude. His performance is either a hit or a miss.
Kohli has a slight weakness when it comes to playing swing in overseas conditions. While he has shown skill in some cases, Pujara is far more adept at handling such balls, an essential character for a number 3 batsman in the lineup. Kohli could take a leaf out of his book for that, if he plans to play the longer format better.
Pujara's greatest contribution to the Indian batting lineup is the stability and composure he brings to the field. There's never a hurried run, a risky shot or an undue need for long shots. Kohli, time and again, has proved that in spite of his limitless talent, he is lacking in this area, though time is bound to mature him.
You can probably throw a glass of chilled water on Pujara's face and he won't bat an eyelid. You won't distract him enough to get him out. On the other hand, dare you breathe too loudly near Kohli, he gets riled up. It is much easier to get inside Kohli's head than Pujara's, making the latter immune to mind games.
The timeline is brewing!